• Matt Johnston, Surface Land Agent

Clubroot: What you need to know

Clubroot is a growing problem within Canadian provinces and is a major concern for farmers, ranchers, energy companies and the counties that are committed to mitigating this wide spread disease.


Clubroot is a soil-borne disease of cruciferous crops. Once established, it can lead to swollen, deformed plant roots that restrict water and nutrient uptake, resulting in premature ripening or plant death.

Clubroot is caused by the soil-borne pathogen Plasmodiophora brassicae, which shares some characterisitics of a fungus, an amoeba and a slime mold, making it challenging to control. Preventing the introduction of the pathogen is critical, however management is possible.


Scouting fields regularly and carefully is important for effective disease management. Clubroot often shows up in distinguishable patches due to premature ripening of canola fields. In fields with no history of clubroot, the diseased patches are most often found at field entrances where equipment carrying infested soil first deposits this soil. In fields with a history of this disease, highly infested patches are commonly found in areas with increased moisture, such as low spots or near sloughs.


Preventing spore buildup and spore movement is essential to the control of the disease. Using resistant varieties of seed, longer crop rotation between canola (every 4 years instead of 2) and managing weeds effectively and in a timely matter can make a substantial difference. As a landowner you want to make sure to use treated seed to ensure it is free from clubroot spores. Cleaning your equipment regularly and implementing zero or reduced till equipment can greatly reduce the transfer of spores.


Clubroot was added as a declared pest to Alberta’s Agricultural Pests Act (APA) in April 2007. CAPP uses the Best Management Practice (BMP) for equipment cleaning protocol. Operators are encouraged to perform their own process to determine whether certain equipment cleaning is required in the area they are working. If you determine the area poses a risk of clubroot you are required to define what level of cleaning you need to perform to mitigate soil transfer and movement. Documentation of all steps of your internal process should be kept.

  • Mechanical Cleaning – is the removal of soil material using tools such as brooms, brushes, air compressors, shovels or by hand.

  • Washing – is considered cleaning with water or steam. Soap may or may not be used.

  • Disinfecting – requires the use of a substance that destroys the spores of clubroot disease. Disinfecting is done after mechanical cleaning and washing has been completed. Agriculture and Rural Development recommends a 1-2% bleach-water mixture however other disinfectants can be used.

References: Clubroot.ca Capp.ca

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