Cleavers not threatening exports, Canola Council says

Cleavers, in seedling form. (Photo courtesy Canola Council of Canada)

CNS Canada — Suggestions that canola shipments to China could be in jeopardy because of concerns over herbicide-resistant weeds are being refuted by the Canola Council of Canada.

Great Northern Growers Inc., an agriculture service business in Saskatoon that sells herbicides and other products, said it has heard China doesn’t want pesticide-resistant weeds coming into the country.

In fact, GNG claims the country could shut its border to Canadian canola altogether if it occurs.

Herbicide-resistant cleavers in canola imports are of particular concern, according to company CEO Ash Skinner.

“They’re worried about it,” he said, adding that cleavers are roughly the same size as a canola seed. “It’s very difficult to clean them out.”

The infestation across Western Canada in 2016 is particularly bad, he said.

According to Skinner, quinclorac herbicide is one of the most cost-effective ways to deal with the pest.

However, several months back, exporters and processors in the Canadian canola industry began refusing to buy canola treated with quinclorac.

The reasons were also tied to concerns that Canadian canola exports could be rejected by China if the amount of pesticide still left on the seed or oil exceeded certain standards.

The rumours of herbicide-resistant cleavers raising red flags in China aren’t something the Canola Council of Canada is familiar with.

“We’ve had numerous interactions with regulators in Japan and China and this issue has never come up,” said Brian Innes, the council’s vice-president for government relations.

Neither importers or exporters have identified this as a problem, he added, noting the situation with quinclorac and China is still unclear.

However, for Skinner, the refusal to accept quinclorac-treated canola is something he believes will cause more problems for the industry over the long haul, if cleavers get much worse.

“Quinclorac is a cost-effective way to counter (cleavers). Unfairly, the industry has targeted quinclorac. It’s creating a bigger jeopardy to canola than what the MRLs (maximum residue limits for quinclorac) would be to China.”

— Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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