Canola growers urged to be smart: don’t use Clever (quinclorac) until importers set MRLs

Those who have sprayed canola with the herbicide need to inform buyers at delivery time

The Canola Council of Canada is warning growers that using the newly released herbicide called Clever on their canola crops this year might not be a smart idea.

That’s because Japan, one of Canada’s biggest canola customers, has not yet established a maximum residue level (MRL) for the active ingredient, quinclorac, which means all grain handlers require farmers to declare it and some won’t accept canola that’s been treated with it.

“We export over 90 per cent of what we grow and process,” council president Patti Miller wrote in an email last week. “Making sure we meet the requirements of our customers is critical to the growth and profitability of the entire value chain.”

Cargill Canada says it won’t buy quinclorac-treated canola.

The Western Grain Elevator Association, which represents the major grain companies has amended its Declaration of Eligibility for Delivery Form to be signed by all farmers before delivering, Cargill said in a message to its farm customers. Farmers must declare if their crops have been treated with any form of quinclorac and can be held financially responsible for false declarations.

“Using Clever may result in residues that are unacceptable in (key) markets. Using pesticide products that result in unacceptable residues jeopardizes the reputation of Canadian canola and can cause serious harm to the industry’s profitability,” the council says in a web document dated June 26, 2015.

Registered 2015

Clever is produced by Productierra and distributed by Great Northern Growers, the document says. Clever was registered in Canada for canola May 29, 2015 making it legal to use in this country.

Great Northern Growers issued a statement downplaying the risk, noting Canada’s grain system can segregate treated canola if necessary.

“We have limited our Clever sales to approximately 1.5 per cent of total canola acres to allow farmers with serious cleaver infestations an opportunity to manage their problem, while ensuring that the industry can easily deliver these treated acres to markets with established MRLs,” Great Northern Growers said in response to Cargill’s decision. “In our opinion the small amounts used when pooled with the entire canola crop further dilutes residue levels to negligible levels.

“If a company refuses to work with you (farmers), then you can make the choice to find a company that will work with you.”

According to Great Northern Growers, quinclorac has been used on canola for more than 10 years without issue.

“(We) cannot find any instance where quinclorac-treated canola was banned by any grain handlers or has ever been an issue to foreign markets,” the company wrote.

Quinclorac has not been available commercially for canola since 2002, Miller said in response.

More sensitized

“World markets have become much more sensitized to food and feed safety and, over the last 13 years Japan has developed its own system of establishing MRLs and has monitored pesticide residues more closely,” she added.

“We expect that an MRL for quinclorac in Japan will be established in 2016 and are working with the government of Canada to express that this is a priority for canola. However, until such time as an MRL is established, there is no tolerance for quinclorac residue on canola.”

As for segregating quinclorac, Miller noted those costs are borne by grain companies and processors, not herbicide distributors.

Quinclorac offers good control of a number of weeds, including cleavers. While Roundup is usually effective on cleavers, Liberty Link and Clearfield may not be as effective as many cleavers are Group 2 resistant, Miller wrote. Quinclorac potentially has a fit on about 55 per cent of Canada’s canola acres.

“Improved control of cleavers is a priority for the industry if we are to meet our target of 52 bushels per acre by 2025,” she wrote. “However, until MRLs are in place in key markets, we will continue to advocate for control methods other than Clever/quinclorac on canola.”

It’s also important not to exceed MRLs, Jeanette Gaultier, Manitoba Agriculture and Rural Development’s pesticides, minor use and regulatory specialist said in a webinar last week.

To do that, follow the product label’s recommendation for application rate, timing and pre-harvest interval, she said.

Be aware the some crop products have different pre-harvest intervals depending on the crop.

Glyphosate can be used as a harvest aid, but it isn’t a desiccant, and does not speed up crop maturity, Gaultier said.

“Early applications of glyphosate can result in increased (crop) residues and also affect seed integrity,” she said.

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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