Stay ahead of FHB to reduce market risk


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Keep it Clean, a cross-commodity initiative focused on helping Canadian producers grow market-ready crops, is reminding growers that their on-farm practices can protect the quality and marketability of their crops and help keep key markets open for all.

By following the Keep it Clean practices to manage disease and reduce residues from crop protection products, growers can help maintain Canada’s reputation as a trusted supplier of high-quality wheat, barley and oats. Since most of what we grow is exported, the success of our industry depends on it.

Every year, Canada exports over 20 million tonnes of wheat, barley and oats and every shipment must meet the standards set by importing countries, including their tolerances for pesticide residues and traces of disease. These tolerances differ from market to market and importing countries are using highly sensitive equipment to test for residues – new technology can detect levels close to one part per billion, and in some cases parts per trillion.

Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a fungal disease that can reduce yield and grain quality and has the potential to create market risk. When FHB infects cereal crops, it can produce a potent mycotoxin called deoxynivalenol (DON). DON, also known as vomitoxin, can limit the end-use and marketing potential of the harvested grain, as most importing countries have strict limits on DON levels. Shipments that exceed acceptable levels of DON could be rejected, at tremendous cost to the industry and may impact Canada’s reputation as a producer of high-quality cereal grains.

To help keep marketing options open for their harvested grain, and keep DON out of Canada’s cereals, Keep it Clean recommends a proactive approach to FHB management. Growers are encouraged to visit and use the following management practices to stay ahead of FHB:

  • Grow the most FHB-resistant varieties available in areas at risk for FHB.
  • Plant clean seed and consider a seed treatment in high-risk areas.
  • Scout for stage, not symptoms, and apply fungicide when there is an elevated risk of FHB.
  • If FHB is identified, send samples of harvested grain for testing to detect the presence of mycotoxins, such as DON.
  • Rotate away from cereals on FHB-infected fields for 1-2 years.
  • Use a combination of best management practices to control fusarium.

As part of their FHB management plan, producers are also encouraged to make use of the materials available through provincial commodity groups and agricultural departments, including risk maps, to inform their decisions and help to limit the spread and severity of outbreaks.

For additional information on the on-farm practices that can reduce market risk, visit Keep it Clean.

Keep it Clean is a joint initiative of the Canola Council of Canada, Pulse Canada, Cereals Canada, Barley Council of Canada and Prairie Oat Growers Association, providing growers and advisors with resources to grow crops that meet the stringent requirements of domestic and export customers.
This program is funded through the AgriMarketing Program through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal, provincial, territorial initiative.

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