Goal: The National Sclerotinia Initiative was created to conduct a coordinated research strategy to minimize the devastating effects of Sclerotinia (white mold) on soybeans, canola, sunflowers, dry edible beans, and the pulse crop group consisting of dry peas, lentils, and chickpeas.

Disease Background: Sclerotinia is a serious fungal disease that affects most broad leaf plants, including canola, dry edible beans, soybeans, sunflowers, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. It has proven very difficult to control or minimize. The fungus generates hard, black bodies called sclerotia that can remain in the soil for many years. Under the right weather conditions, the sclerotia produce spores that spread for miles and can infect a susceptible crop.

Economic Impacts: Sclerotinia causes serious economic loss by negatively impacting crop quality and yields. The collective annual losses for the five crops participating in the Initiative have been as high as $252 million. Specifically, annual losses for each of the crops have been as high as $100 million for sunflowers; $70 million for soybeans; $46 million for dry edible beans; $24 million for canola; and $12 million for pulse crops. The disease is a serious threat to the future of the confection sunflower. The disease not only reduces yields but quality. Diseased seeds cannot always be separated in cleaning and processing resulting in bitter tasting seeds which are rejected by consumers.

Initiative Background: The Initiative began when Congress awarded $960,000 in fiscal year FY2002. It has gotten an increase in funding each year ever since. This is largely due to many accomplishments to date, which proves how far research funding can go.

Funding Request: To continue and build on the accomplishments made possible by past appropriations listed below, stakeholders recommend additional ARS funding as follows:

· FY 2002 – $960,000 appropriated to ARS. USDA has awarded competitive funds to 20 research projects, after input from the stakeholder Sclerotinia Working Group;
· FY 2003 – $1,450,510 appropriated to ARS. USDA has awarded competitive funds to 23 research projects, after input from the stakeholder Sclerotinia Working Group;
· FY 2004 – $1,441,952 appropriated to ARS. (Funding remains at FY2003 levels less an across the board 0.59% rescission); $2.8 million had been requested;
· FY 2005 – $1,429,983 appropriated to ARS. (Funding remains at FY2004 levels less an across the board 0.83% rescission); $2.8 million had been requested;
· FY 2006 – $2.8 million in ARS funding to continue the program and sustain the research.

Initiative Background

Initiative Accomplishments

2005 Sclerotinia White Paper