Quinclorac and chlormequat — two rather complex words that grain companies in Western Canada have one answer for: no.
The Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA) says its members have individually decided not to accept canola treated with the herbicide quinclorac or wheat treated with the growth regulator chlormequat for the 2016 growing season.
What's the issue? According to WGEA executive director Wade Sobkowich, Canadian Grain Commission testing shows both chemicals leave a residue on seed and kernels.
While Health Canada has set a maximum residue level (MRL) for both crops within our country, some of our export destinations aren't quite there yet. China has no MRL for quinclorac, and the U.S. has no residue limit for chlormequat. Since there is no limit in place, that means no amount of chemical residue is acceptable for either country — it has to be at zero — but Sobkowich says we already know a residue will be found if shipments are tested.
"We don't want to do anything to jeopardize those markets," he says. "We understand China is in the process, through CODEX, of having an MRL established for quinclorac, and the U.S. is also in the midst of having an MRL established for chlormequat. So we hope that perhaps by next year or even the year after, they'll be in a position to accept."
Sobkowich thinks it's critical to comply with these other countries' requirements so as not to risk rejection and future business.
He notes last year was when this issue first came up, grain companies were more lenient at the time because some farmers had already purchased and applied the chemicals before the problem really came to light.
"In some cases the grain companies worked with farmers last year to accept it and keep it segregated," he says. "It was a major hassle and it was very costly. This year everybody ought to know."
Sobkowich thinks it's important for farmers to be aware of his association's decision quinclorac and chlormequat to ensure producers can keep their marketing options open come harvest time.