Canola growers in Western Canada likely won’t have access to crop protection products that contain lambda-cyhalothrin — one of the main active ingredients used to control insect pests — in 2023, which means there are several factors that need to be considered in planning for managing insects, such as flea beetles and grasshoppers.
Lambda-cy products, which are sold under the trade names Matador and Silencer, have been recalled from retailers across the Prairies due to a change to the label that takes effect in April 2023 (read more here).
“It’s an unfortunate loss of a tool for us,” says Ian Epp, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada, who serves as the council’s representative on maximum residue limit and regulatory issues.
As he explains in the Canola School video below, a number of the insecticides approved for controlling flea beetles are registered for managing multiple pest species, but can only be applied a limited number of times each year.
“Losing another one in the toolbox means you might apply one or two [in spring] if you need an application for flea beetles. But what happens for grasshoppers later in the season if I don’t have that tool?” he asks.
There are also logistical questions to be answered, both in terms of overall and just-in-time supply of alternative products in spring.
“They [lambda-cy products] are one of the top two or three applied insecticides… and it’s been a pretty stable insecticide market for a lot of years. So replacing a big product like that, just from a supply chain issue, having acres available to growers when they need it for flea beetles or early season pests. It’s a big change for a lot of growers and a lot of retailers, making sure they have supply in place when they need it,” says Epp.
The quick onset of a flea beetle infestation in spring means product has to be on hand, either on farm or at a local retailer, prior to the pests reaching economic thresholds.
“It’s a critical to get on there quick and early, so having the right product at the shed or ready to go. And then what happens if we have a number of pest insects throughout the growing season? It’s a big loss and growers could be thinking about what options they have right now. Maybe having something on hand, and what does that mean for future pests if you know you might have to spray for flea beetles? And then maybe there’s a late season pest — which product do you want to use first?”
The companies that make lambda-cy products are hopeful the PMRA will revise the label change so that these products will be available for growers in Western Canada again in 2024.
“There’s a chance that these products could come back. Just with the timelines at the PMRA or the government level, I don’t see this happening for 2023, and especially for flea beetles happening really early in the canola growing season,” says Epp. “Hopefully we see this product back, but unfortunately, we’re going to go probably a year without it.”