Episode 3

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Published on:

14th Apr 2020

Disease Management in Pulses

Today we discuss soil-borne and seed-borne diseases in pulse crops. We are joined by Chris Westergard a farmer in Montana, who gives us insight into what his operation looks like and how he manages these risks to his pulse crops. Then Dr. Michael Wunsch, a Plant Pathologist at the NDSU Carrington Research Extension Center, shares some of the ongoing research and recommendations for combating these obstacles. Despite cold temperatures in Montana at the moment, Chris is turning his attention to his seed in preparation for planting. He evaluates his seed quality, germination and risk of Ascochyta.

“Ascochyta is by far the most prevalent and the most yield limiting in chickpeas. It can be in peas and lentils too….. But chickpeas seem to be way more susceptible to it.” - Chris Westergard


Chris highlights weed control, seed sources, soil temperatures and identifying the types of inoculant he needs to have ready as other preparation measures prior to planting. Dr. Wunsch echoes that advice citing research that confirms the effects of soil temperature and environmental conditions on pulse crop disease rates including Ascochyta, Pythium and Rhizoctonia. Unfortunately though Chris claims that “if everyone waited for optimal soil (temperatures) they’d never get anything done.” This leads to the use of seed treatments. 


“Anytime you’re planting into cold soils, you definitely want to have a seed treatment. When you’re planting relatively late, say the third week of May, and the soils are warm…..and not too wet…..you can probably get away with not treating the chickpeas.” -Dr. Michael Wunsch


But just as with anything in farming, it's never simple. As Dr. Wunsch says “agronomic performance is a product of multiple factors.” His research has also explored the effects of early planting on root rot. He has found that “Early planting reduces the severity of your root rot and it reduces it by a lot.” 


“So planting date is a really, really important tool for managing these (diseases).” -Dr. Michael Wunsch


This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:


  • Meet Chris Westergard and Dr. Michael Wunsch
  • Learn about how Chris starts the process of planting preparation
  • Discover the many obstacles that exist for pulse crops from seed and soil borne diseases
  • Explore different factors that can be adjusted to reduce the risks these diseases pose


Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
Join us as we follow pulse crop farmers through the growing season and dive into the research that’s helping them through some of the challenges they face. We’ll also talk to a number of other industry stakeholders along the way.

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.