Keeping crops clean heading into the harvest season


You’ve most likely heard of the Keep It Clean program across Canada, but around August, communication in the marketplace ramps up about the crop quality initiative.

The program — run together by Pulse Canada, the Canola Council of Canada, and Cereals Canada — provides information to growers and industry on potential market access risks, and what sort of crop protection services or agronomic practices could lead to a closure.

Greg Bartley, director of crop protection and crop quality for Pulse Canada, joined RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney to talk about the program, and the messaging they are trying to get out to the farming public this year.

“What we are most known for in the Keep It Clean program related to pulses is called our Pulse MRL Advisory. We provide the communications on any crop protection product that may pose that market access risk related to MRL’s (maximum residue limits),” Bartley explains. “We are basically communicating any crop protection products that pose a risk. So things like pre-harvest products, or desiccant products, that create a MRL challenge.”

The Keep It Clean campaign ensures that farmers receive accurate and up-to-date information on things they can’t do, prior to harvesting their crops. As Bartley notes, glufosinate in Western Canada is only registered as a pre-harvest aid on lentils for some generic products, which is very important for growers to know if they had intended to use it as a desiccant. Because there are missing MRLs for the product in major markets, the Keep it Clean program recommends farmers not to use this product on lentils and that buyers not purchase lentils treated with glufosinate.

Although this information is readily available, one big challenge remains — if these products work, why wouldn’t we use them? Why can’t we get a MRL registered so that we can use some of these products, such as glufosinate?

“What we are trying to differentiate between is from a registered product — so all of the products (on the Pulse MRL Advisory) are registered — and an acceptable product. What is acceptable to use that won’t create that trade concern,” explains Bartley. “So the issue gets back down to all of our MRL issues. The challenge we are dealing with is that when we are exporting our grains to those export markets, we have to look at the MRL’s for the export markets. For example, if we stick to the glufosinate example, our MRL’s here in Canada are six parts per million — or 6 ppm. If you compare that to say the U.S. MRL’s, there is no MRL established. So any detection of glufosinate on the crop, if it’s being exported to the U.S., will create a non-compliance. So it’ll get rejected, and be sent back to Canada.”

It’s important to note that pulse crops aren’t the only crop that has a challenge. One of the more common examples for cereal crops is the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest, especially if that crop isn’t dried down properly, or in the case of malt barley, where they are recommending not to use glyphosate as a pre-harvest altogether. When it comes to canola, there aren’t currently any products that are being communicated as a market access risk, so for this year there aren’t any products to be aware of.

Keep It Clean does a review process annually, where the commodity groups come together as an industry to re-assess market access risks. Every year the lists are updated early on in the growing season on the Keep It Clean website, so that growers can access that information sooner, rather than later.

Check out the full conversation between Greg Bartley and Shaun Haney, below:

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