Blog •  06/08/2021

Next steps for growers with sclerotinia in the field this year

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By Andy Stainthorpe, Seeds and Inoculants Manager, Pioneer

Harvest may not be in full swing just yet, but soon crops will be in the store and it will be time to assess their overall performance before drilling gets underway.  

Sclerotinia in oilseed rape isn’t always evident, but if you’ve experienced it this year, you’ll know how devastating it can be. This year, I visited our trial site in Essex where the difference between PT303 Protector Sclerotinia and the competitor hybrid adjacent was stark with sclerotinia infection being one of the main reasons.

Looking under the canopy of the PT303 crop, I saw green, healthy stems branching low down.

The competitor crop – a leading commercial variety – was brown and prematurely senescing. Some stems were completely dead while others were partly infected. It had spread very quickly with the damage clear to see.

It’s frustrating seeing stem diseases like sclerotinia developing  so late in the season. Suddenly, growers are faced with the dilemma of how to manage the crop.

If you have seen sclerotinia develop this year, and your yield has been impacted as a result, start planning your seed selection for next season to give yourself as much protection as possible.


Keep calm and carry on

Deciding whether to desiccate winter oilseed rape crops that are prematurely senescing due to diseases like sclerotinia is always a difficult decision, as the expense involved may not be worthwhile. The frustration is that you may be making applying a further input to a crop that is suddenly showing a limited yield potential.   


Consider the data

If you have encountered sclerotinia in your oilseed rape, reflect on the data available and consider how you want to manage that risk in the future. Sclerotinia resting bodies can reside in the soil for years, so choosing a variety with that in-built protection could be a worthwhile consideration.

PT303 Protector Sclerotinia is the first hybrid to be sold with a claim for tolerance to Sclerotinia. It is a hybrid variety that has given strong all-round performance in terms of vigour, disease resistance, and especially gross output.

It delivered the highest yields in each region in AHDB Candidate List trials giving a UK region gross output of 111% and an East/West yield of 116%.

The variety is also part of the AHDB’s Recommended List trials this year and we look forward to reporting back on the results after harvest.