Crop Disease & Pests

There are two types of pests under the Agricultural Pest Act:

  1. Declared Pest –measures shall be taken to prevent, destroy or control
  2. Nuisance –measures maybe taken to prevent, destroy or control

Insects

There are many insects that affect various crops throughout Alberta. High risk insect pest species with the potential to cause major crop losses that are actively monitored, surveyed and predicted. The County performs a grasshopper survey and Battle River Research Group and Alberta Agriculture looks for:

Other crop pests that can cause major damage but are not looked for in the County are:

Another source of good information is the Alberta Insect Pest Monitoring Network.

Early detection of harmful crop pests allows producers an opportunity to utilize available control measures or plan rotations to manage outbreaks.

Diseases

There are two crop diseases that have been declared pests under the Agricultural Pest Act.

Clubroot - since its discovery in the first canola field near Edmonton in 2003, it has spread to several counties in Alberta. Clubroot continues to spread and is a significant concern for Alberta producers. The County has a Clubroot policy and it generally follows the Alberta Clubroot Management Plan that Alberta Agriculture and Forestry put out to minimize yield losses and reduce the further spread and buildup in Alberta.

Blackleg was once a devastating disease that commanded the respect of all canola producers in Western Canada 20 to 30 years ago. The disease received less attention after the introduction of resistant canola cultivars that essentially eliminated the disease risks, especially when sound crop rotation practices were employed with the resistant cultivars. However, blackleg disease is now making a comeback across the Canadian prairies and once again getting lots of attention from those involved or interested in canola production.

The County is also concerned with Fusarium Head Blight also known as scab or tombstone, is a fungal disease of wheat (including durum), barley, oats, and other small cereal grains and corn. Infection of the harvested grain and/or mycotoxin production negatively affects livestock feed, the baking and milling quality of wheat, biofuel (ethanol) production, and the malting and brewing qualities of malt barley. More information about this disease can be found at Fusarium Head Blight of Barley and Wheat and at Let’s Manage It.

 

Most disease pests may be prevented or limited by lengthening crop rotations – shortened rotations dramatically increase the risk of infection.

Other Pests

Agricultural Pests include Norway Rats and Wild Boar when at large.

Agricultural Nuisances are things like Coyotes, Skunks, Magpies, and Richardson’s Ground Squirrels. Although this is not a complete list of what is considered a pest and/or nuisance but rather more of the species the County is concerned about.

Weed Management

In the Weed Control Act of Alberta, weeds have been classified into two categories based on their ability to spread and thrive at the expense of agricultural crops or native vegetation and the information from other provinces and countries that have experienced the severity of the problems that the weeds cause. These categories are prohibited noxious weeds, which shall be destroyed and noxious weeds, which shall be controlled.

Prohibited Noxious Weeds

  • The rationale for the prohibited noxious category is to prevent the establishment and/or entry of new weed species into Alberta.
  • Weeds that are in the prohibited noxious category are generally not found in Alberta or found in small numbers.
  • Prohibited noxious weeds can become economically devastating and have a high potential threat of invasion and therefore they must be destroyed.

Under the Weed Control Act the following is a list of Prohibited Noxious Weeds.

Noxious Weeds

  • The rationale for the noxious category is to control and prevent the further spread of these weeds in Alberta.
  • Generally, weeds designated as noxious are present across the province, but not necessarily widespread. For example, they may be present in many municipalities, but not abundant, or they may be abundant in a few municipalities, but scarce or even non-existent in other municipalities.
  • Control measures for noxious weeds are limited and therefore, further spread has the potential to cause significant yield losses.

Under the Weed Control Act the following is a list of Noxious Weeds.

Weed of Concern

Absinth Wormwood is a weed the County is watching as it does pose a threat to landowners. This plant has become an increasing problem in the County and the ASB has been spraying along roadsides and on private land in small patches.

The major weeds that the County is dealing with are Scentless Chamomile, Toadflax, and White Cockle, but they are not the only ones.

For small patches of persistent problem weeds the county does offer Private Land Spraying. This is limited to 10 acres (4 hectares) or less as the County doesn’t have the necessary equipment and the cost is listed in the Schedule of Fees. Landowners are encouraged to contact ASB staff regarding any weed concerns or you can also Report A Weed and ASB staff will follow up on in it.