What to do when unexpected product performance occurs

Q & A with an expert

What to do when unexpected product performance occurs

Q: My chemical did not work. What should I do?

A: This is an unfortunate scenario that most growers have likely dealt with at one time or another. After 30 years working as a chemical manufacturer representative or agrologist, I have found there are new issues every year. So, what should growers do to ensure the maximum effectiveness of their applications, or what to do if a problem arises?

Crop protection manufacturers provide growers with products that are stringently tested and must be registered with the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to meet performance and safety guidelines. These requirements provide a high level of confidence the crop protection products will perform satisfactorily in the field. Growers should remember, however, that there are limitations to every product and 100 per cent control of a pest is unlikely.

These limitations are the source for unexpected product performance. Included in this group are weed size, environmental conditions, resistant weeds and application issues to name a few. My experience indicates growers are adamant about doing the best job possible when using crop protection products. Growers take pride in their fields and their ability to do what’s best with the environmental and crop conditions present. The ability for the product to perform as advertised, however, is bound by these limitations.

When I listen to drug advertising on TV, I hear about all the limitations on the product. All the side-effects of the drug are quickly covered. We don’t do that with pesticide advertising. Products may claim a product controls 27 weeds, but not that drought may reduce effectiveness. Thus, it falls ultimately to the customer to read the label. Growers using multiple products and having to interpret labels that are sometimes difficult to completely understand is an added challenge. It is easy to see why misunderstandings occur and performance expectations are not met. As agrologists, retailers and manufacturer reps, we can assist growers with product use.

How does a grower deal with an issue with a chemical product when it arises? First, ensure you are monitoring your field after application and you have kept field records. If you notice there is a potential problem, you can try to figure it out yourself. For example, if, by chance, there was a rainfall event shortly after an application, check the rainfast period. Often, it will not be that easy. If there is no easy answer, it’s time to call your agrologist, retailer or manufacturer rep. That person may be able to diagnose what happened in the situation or provide a contact number for experts on that particular product. Also, it is critical at this stage to look at remedial measures. You want to maximize this season’s crop potential.

It is frustrating to have an issue with a crop protection product, but growers should pursue the reason it occurred. Learning the probable cause can prevent future crop and economic losses.

Ernest Nycholat, PAg, CCA, is a manager of agronomic services for north-central Alberta with Nutrien Ag Solutions.

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