Growers in the MonDak region can get a free test for Apanomyces root rot in their dry pea and lentil fields this fall and spring of 2020, as Montana works on developing an early warning system for a pathogen that is capable of destroying pulse crop production.

Aphanomyces is being found more and more often in soils throughout the region, according to Mary Burrows, Lab Director for the Schutter Diagnostic Laboratory in Montana. She has been an outspoken advocate for getting a handle on pulse crop diseases in the region.

She told the Williston Herald that Aphanomyces in particular is a growing problem because of intense crop rotations throughout the region.

“There are growers in North Dakota who cannot grow peas and lentils any more due to this disease,” she said.

A robust soil testing protocol can help growers detect this problem earlier, and know that they must lengthen rotations and take whatever other preventive measures they can in their fields.

Producers who suspect Aphanomyces root rot in 2019 or previous years on their dry pea and lentil fields who want to participate in helping develop this testing program should submit two gallon-sized Ziploc bags of soil from two separate areas of the field to the Schutter Diagnostic Lab, 119 Plant BioScience Building, Bozeman, MT 59717-3150.

Detailed submission instructions for the sample are located online at

Collect one soil sample from the entrance of the field within the area where plants grow, about 10 meters (30 yards) from the edge of the field. For each sample, take several shovelfuls from the top 6 inches of soil in a 10-meter-square area. Be sure to clean the shovel well between taking samples from the two areas, to avoid any possible soil contamination.

Clearly mark which soil came from the entrance and which from the low spot. If you don’t have a low, wet spot, collect the second bag either from a problem area in the field, or from another 10-meter square area near the entrance of the field.

Questions about this project can be directed to Burrows at or Carmen Murphy,

Burrows will have questions about the site history for each sample sent to the lab.

In return for their participation, growers can expect a report detailing the presence and severity of the Aphanomyces root rot in the soil sampled. Reports may take up to two months to complete.

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