Episode 8

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Published on:

23rd Jun 2020

Seed Treatments & Root Rots

Farmer Lavern Johnson returns once again to share his insight with pulse crops. After 20 years of pulse crop farming, Lavern explained in episode 4 how root rot affected his ability to plant pulse crops for the next season. 

“As far as the root rot, the only management practice that I think I have going forwards is lengthening out the rotation.” - Lavern Johnson


Research out of Canada suggests that it can take 8 years without a pulse crop host to successfully battle the aphanomyces. For Lavern, pulse crops had become (at times) one of his most profitable crops. This year he finds himself eliminating them from his rotation for an as yet undetermined amount of time.


“Seed treatments are critical for pulses. They’re a big juicy seed and fungi love that….We just kind of run out of management options later in the season because foliar fungicides don’t translocate down to the roots. They will not protect the root.” - Dr. Mary Barrows


Dr. Mary Barrows is an Extension Plant Pathologist with Montana State University. Dr. Barrows serves as the “direct link” with growers to share information and research in order to give them the greatest advantage on their farms. She joins us to share different seed treatments for control of Aphanomyces. 


“Rotation, identifying the pathogen, using varieties, talking to your neighbors. Communication is really important for a lot of these diseases because once they build up in an area, it can be really difficult to manage.” - Dr. Mary Barrows


Dr. Barrows also recommends cleaning equipment between fields to avoid contamination. “There are a lot of factors at play in root rot and not all of them are under our control.” Weather patterns and moisture levels can have major influence on aphanomyces growth. Evidence of root rot is a honey brown color to the roots that can be easily stripped leaving a couple of real tough threads of vascular tissue. Another sign may be the leaves turning yellow from the ground up. This change is typically observed just prior to or around the first flower. To definitively identify aphanomyces she recommends sending in samples for analysis.

“Send us a sample. Send it early. And if it is not early, if it's late and you suspect it might’ve been a problem, we can actually test the soil…..Contact me directly and I’ll give you instructions.” - Dr. Mary Barrows


This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:


  • Lavern Johnson returns in this episode to expand on his pulse growing experience
  • Dr. Mary Barrows of Montana State also joins us to share what techniques can be used to avoid root rot complications
  • We learn how to diagnose aphanomyces and what factors we can control to prevent it from becoming prevalent in the soils



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.