Quinclorac MRL approval marks collaborative win for growers and industry

Cleavers is the only loser in the recent approval of a maximum residue limit (MRL) for the active weed-control ingredient quinclorac for use on canola.

The resolve by industry to work collaboratively through the international research-based regulatory system means that in 2019, growers will be able to fight cleavers with a new and effective crop protection tool whose MRL is universally accepted as safe (when used according to the label directions) and will be supported in global export markets.

BASF, which sells a quinclorac product, has been involved in the effort to establish a quinclorac MRL since 2014.

“We saw the potential,” says Sydney Marlow, canola crop manager for BASF Canada. “Cleavers is everywhere in the black and brown soil zones, where canola grows. It’s a difficult weed to manage, and there haven’t been effective tools against it (before quinclorac). Developing an MRL is a serious investment, but it was a fairly easy decision in this case. It’s an investment to safeguard canola’s export markets.”

Brian Innes, vice-president of public affairs for the Canola Council of Canada, told RealAg Radio recently that the approval is “very positive…it’s an international standard that reflects the science that’s been done over a number of months and years. From a grower perspective, it means a lot less risk when it comes to trading canola internationally that’s been treated with quinclorac.”

The process requires approval from the CODEX Alimentarius Commission, the international standard-setting body of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It’s a rigourous approval process, the final stage in the development of new chemistries destined for export crops around the globe. A CODEX-approved MRL means all countries that use CODEX standards as a basis for imports – such as China, a huge importer of Canadian canola seed – agree that following the label on a particular herbicide will not exceed residue levels.

In the quinclorac case, BASF submitted the supporting documentation for residue limits to the CODEX commission in 2015. The following year the company was asked for additional data information. The MRL it proposed was accepted in October 2017, and was then put forward to the commission’s joint meeting on pesticide residue for approval, which was received this July.

The approval’s timing was too late to guarantee that minimum residue levels would not be exceeded if a quinclorac product was used on this year’s (2018) crop. So in conjunction with the Canola Council of Canada and the Western Grain Elevator Association, a decision was made to hold off introducing Facet L into the marketplace until the 2019 growing season.

Quinclorac liquid herbicide that provides burndown and residual control, and is compatible with any herbicide-tolerant canola system. It’s approved for pre-seed/pre-emerge (up to the six-leaf stage in canola) and post-emerge (up to the six-leaf stage in canola) application windows.

Grain companies have now omitted quinclorac from the 2018-19 declaration forms. Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevator Association, says growers will be able to use herbicides containing quinclorac on canola, according to the application rate and timing on the label, and know the crop can be marketed to Canada’s major export countries.

Quinclorac is classified has as a Group 4 herbicide mode-of-action, for broadleaf weeds, and is a Group 26 mode of action on grasses, a class which covers weeds against which the active ingredient is not yet known.

 

Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts directs research communications and teaches at the University of Guelph, and is president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. You can find him on Twitter as @theurbancowboy

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