Canadian grain is safe when it comes to pesticide residues, says Doug Chorney, assistant chief commissioner of the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC).
“We’re very sensitive in our current monitoring programs to these concerns,” Chorney said here April 2 at the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) advisory council meeting.
During a question period Fisher Branch farmer Paul Gregory told Chorney consumers are increasingly concerned about glyphosate residues on crops. The oat industry is starting to question allowing glyphosate for pre-harvest application, Gregory said.
In fact, Cereals Canada’s Keep it Clean website includes specific warnings about glyphosate use, including that some oat and malting barley buyers prohibit pre-harvest use of the non-selective weed killer.
Why it matters: The most widely used crop protection product in the world is under closer scrutiny and that has big market implications for your farm.
The site warns not to apply glyphosate to wheat unless the greenest part of the field is under 30 per cent moisture.
“Glyphosate has come under increased scrutiny, when compared to other pesticides,” the site says. “Farmers’ rigorous adherence to guidelines, including the science-based label, will keep this important product in our tool box for years to come.”
Agronomists stress glyphosate is registered as a pre-harvest aid to control weeds and is not a desiccant to dry down crops. When applied too early, glyphosate residues in grain can exceed approved levels. If maximum residue limits (MRLs) for a pesticide is exceeded that could prompt a buyer to reject the purchase and may undermine future sales.
Italian farmers have used fears of glyphosate residues on Canadian durum wheat to discourage imports, even though Canadian durum is deemed safe. As a result, Canada has lost one of its most important durum customers.
“We do know that glyphosate amongst consumers is becoming a concern and we’ve done marketing efforts to address this… ” Chorney told Gregory. “I can tell you that Canadian grain is safe and we are below our MRLs. But your comment is noted and around the world glyphosate is getting a lot more scrutiny than has been the case in the past. It’s an issue.”
The CGC tests Canadian exports for pesticide residues annually, Chorney said. Because the process is complex and expensive the tests are run all at one time and not in ‘real time’ as the product is shipped out, he said.
While sometimes pesticide residue tests are done for research purposes on grain collected through the CGC’s fall harvest sample program, it’s not part of the CGG’s formal residue testing program, Chorney said.
St. Andrews farmer Hubert Preun suggested the CGC consider checking harvest samples for residues. It might help flag farmers who exceed MRLs. The CGC could then warn them their practices could undermine export markets.
When asked later in an interview what the CGC is finding in its tests, Chorney replied: “What we’re seeing is we’re under the MRLs.
“I am confident that we have excellent grain safety in Canada.”
Five tips to help ensure your crop is market ready
1. Use acceptable pesticides only: Apply only pesticides that are registered for the crop in Canada and won’t create trade concerns. Talk to grain buyers to ensure products are acceptable.
2. Always read and follow the label: With pre-harvest applications check the pre-harvest interval — the number of days that must pass between the last application of a pesticide and swathing or straight combining.
3. Grow disease-resistant varieties and use practices that reduce infection: Crop diseases like blackleg in canola and fusarium head blight (FHB) in cereals can cause yield and quality losses, impact profitability and may create a market risk.
4. Store your crop properly: Proper storage helps maintain crop quality and keeps it free of harmful cross-contaminants.
Only use approved bin treatments (e.g. diatomaceous earth) on cereals.
Never use malathion to prepare canola for storage or to treat bins used to store canola. Keep bins cool, dry, well ventilated and check their condition regularly.
5. Deliver what you declare: When you sign the mandatory declaration of eligibility affidavit at the elevator, you are making a legal assertion that your crop is the variety and/or class you have designated. It also states whether your grain may contain residues of any crop input product specified in the declaration.
This declaration is legally binding. Incorrect information, intentional or unintentional, can be traced back to the farm and individuals can be held liable for the costs associated with contamination of a bin or shipment.
Do not seed these deregistered varieties or any seed produced from them, and don’t deliver them to a Canadian elevator or crushing plant:
- Roundup Ready Polish (B. rapa): Hysyn 101rr;
- Bromoxynil tolerant: 295bx, Armor Bx, Cartier Bx, Zodiac Bx, Renegade Bx;
- Liberty Link (B. napus): Exceed, 2631 Ll, Swallow, Sw Legion Ll, Sw Flare Ll, Lbd 2393 Ll, Innovator, Independence, Hcn 14, Phoenix, 3850, 2153, 3640, 3880, 2163, 2273;
- Clearfield tolerant: 46a76.
For more information, visit CFIA’s database of registered varieties and list of variety registration cancellations.