Loss of Matador for managing flea beetles poses challenge for canola production

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The potential loss of access to an insecticide used to manage flea beetle populations poses a challenge for canola production in Western Canada in 2023.

Syngenta and ADAMA Canada have recalled insecticide products containing lambda-cyhalothrin, under the trade names Matador and Silencer, from their distribution channels in Western Canada, following a decision by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) that will change the rules for when the active ingredient can be used starting in April 2023. The changes include cancelling approval of Matador and Silencer use on crops grown for animal feed.

Syngenta has said Matador will not be available in Western Canada in 2023, while ADAMA has also recalled its existing Silencer supply, but has yet to make a final decision on whether Silencer will be available to Prairie farmers next growing season with an updated label.

In the context of canola production, Matador and Silencer are on a short list of products that are approved for controlling flea beetles, an increasingly problematic pest in Prairie canola fields, especially at young seedling stages.

“There is no silver bullet for dealing with some of these challenges, but having products removed that are available to the grower for managing flea beetles, it has real impact,” says Jim Everson, president of the Canola Council of Canada, speaking with RealAgriculture at the Canola Week conference in Saskatoon, Sask. this week.

“We really are urging the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to look at the data that’s available to be absolutely sure that the decisions that are being made are made on the best available science,” he says. “We certainly have heard this spring and the growing season before about the impact of flea beetles on growers, so it’s a real priority for us. And we can’t meet market demand out there unless we’re able to reliably grow the product.”

“These crop production tools have to be safe, have to be regulated and so on, but we really have to use all the science available and make sure that we’re making the best science-based decision for growers.”

Syngenta has applied for the reinstatement of feed uses, and after being informed about a technical issue with the application in October 2022, the company is working to have it re-approved for the 2024 growing season.

Everson stresses the need for timely decisions from the PMRA, which is undergoing its own transition process.

“Our first goal is ‘let’s focus it on what’s going to really matter,’ which is get these re-evaluations sorted out so that we can do them in a timely manner…” he says. “Our competitiveness globally depends a lot on the performance of our regulatory programs domestically, and PMRA is a real example of that.”

Stay tuned for more coverage from Canola Week 2022 in Saskatoon, Sask.

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