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Questions and answers: Verticillium longisporum

What is Verticillium longisporum?

Verticillium longisporum (V. longisporum) is a plant pathogen that has the potential to cause early death and decreased yield for plants infected with the pest. It primarily affects canola plants, but can also affect other plants from the crucifer family such as: cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, turnip and radish.

Where is V. longisporum found?

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) first confirmed the presence of Verticillium longisporum in Manitoba in 2014, although it had not previously been reported in Canada. Since then, the CFIA has confirmed the presence of Verticillium longisporum in six provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. The pest is prevalent in Europe, Russia, China and Japan, and in some parts of the United States.

How did the CFIA detect V. longisporum?

The CFIA conducted a national survey of canola-producing areas to determine its distribution in Canada. The CFIA has met with stakeholders to discuss the results of the national survey and will consult with provinces on any assistance the CFIA can provide with provincial control programs (e.g. sharing lab testing protocols).

Is V. longisporum considered a quarantine pest?

The International Plant protection Convention (IPPC) describes a quarantine pest as: "A pest of potential economic importance to the area endangered thereby and not yet present there, or present but not widely distributed and being officially controlled". The results of the national survey and biology of the pest were key factors in the CFIA's recommendation to stakeholders of not adding V. longisporum to the List of Pests Regulated by Canada. V. longisporum is not designated as a quarantine pest of Canada, and is not known to be regulated by any other country.

Has this information been brought to the attention of those likely to be affected?

The CFIA has advised provincial governments and industry associations of the results of the survey and the CFIA circulated RMD (Risk Management Document)-17-01: Pest Risk Management Document –Verticillium longisporum (Verticillium stripe) to affected stakeholders for their review and comments between March and May of 2017. RMD-17-01 explained the rationale for the CFIA's recommendation of not adding Verticillium longisporum to the List of Pests Regulated by Canada and stakeholders were supportive of the CFIA's recommendation at the conclusion of the consultation period.

What are the next steps for canola growers in the area where the pest was found?

The CFIA has not placed any restrictions on canola production, and at this time, this pest does not appear to be having significant impacts on canola production in Canada.

Landowners are encouraged to apply on-farm best management practices and have a biosecurity plan in place to prevent the introduction and minimize the spread of this pest. Growers can consult the National Voluntary Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard for the grains and oilseeds industry.

How can V. longisporum spread?

The pathogen is primarily spread through the movement of infested soil or diseased plant parts. There is also some scientific evidence that seed from heavily infected crops may introduce the pest to new areas.

What is the potential for V. longisporum to spread?

V. longisporum can spread via wind-borne crop debris, soil erosion and flooding in addition to human-mediated spread, such as movement of field equipment.

How did V. longisporum arrive in Canada?

Given the apparent wide distribution of V. longisporum in Canada, it is not possible to determine the original source of the pathogen.

How does the CFIA manage new plant pests in Canada?

If a new plant pest is detected in Canada, the CFIA works to reduce its impact while assessing its distribution. The CFIA may place controls in areas near the detection while it conducts surveys to determine its spread. As well, a risk assessment may be undertaken to identify the pest's biology, pathways of spread, environmental and economic impact. This information is used to determine the CFIA's approach to managing the pest, which may include eradication, control or no action.

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