Not only is there plenty of risk of crop injury due to herbicide carryover in Western Canada next year, there are also plenty of questions being asked by farmers about whether the situation could or should have been handled differently.

Due to the lack of rain to break down active ingredients in certain products, BASF issued an urgent notice to Prairie farmers this past week, warning against planting canola, durum wheat, or canary seed in fields where specific imidazoline-based herbicides — mainly Solo, Viper, Odyssey and Pursuit — were applied in 2021.

Whenever there’s an extended dry weather pattern, growers should try to be conservative in choosing herbicides with the shortest potential carryover, but “it’s human nature to hope for the best,” says Clark Brenzil, weed specialist with Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Agriculture, sharing a third-party perspective on the herbicide carryover issue in the interview below.

Some producers that are having to change cropping plans for next year are wondering why the urgent message, as well as new information on which crops will not be supported, is only being conveyed at this point in the growing season, well after they applied the aforementioned herbicides.

Brenzil says the timing of BASF’s notice is “probably as good as it could be.”

“It’s better that they [farmers] know now going into next season than after they’ve planted their sensitive crop that totally gets wiped out by the residue,” he says.

That being said, Brenzil also believes problems caused by Group 2 carryover should have been acknowledged earlier.

“I think it’s long overdue because I think we’ve had previous dry periods that have illustrated there’s a bit of a concern. I think the reason it’s coming out now is the dry conditions this past year were so extensive that it creates a very large risk for the company in question. So I think they’re trying to get ahead of it,” he says. “From that perspective, that’s good they’re preventing a potential disaster from happening next year.”

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BASF is not the only company with products that come with carryover risk, notes Brenzil, referring to the active ingredients in other residual products from FMC, Bayer, and Corteva. “I think we have to realize that this company is not alone, and that it’s not the only one that has residual products that producers are going to have to watch for.”

With canola being included on the list of cropping options that BASF will not be supporting in certain scenarios for 2022, some farmers are feeling as if the goalposts have been shifted on them after the product was applied.

“For Odyssey, that one you weren’t supposed to re-crop to canola anyway. So I know that’s something that producers try every once in awhile, and not always are they successful. The canola and flax were added fairly late in the life cycle of Solo, so it’s probably one of the most sensitive re-cropping options you could have for that product,” explains Brenzil.

Another question that has come to the forefront is whether or not BASF is simply being too cautious. Brenzil says likely no, simply due to how extreme this drought has been.

“Essentially, the western half of Saskatchewan has had less than 100 mm of rainfall in those months of June, July, and August,” he notes, which is not nearly enough for the soluble rate of many of these products.

Listen to the interview above for more from Clark Brenzil on the factors contributing to herbicide carryover risk and the urgent notice issued by BASF.

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