Cleavers stand to kill canola industry

On verge of worst year ever for cleavers

Farmers in all canola markets around the world, much the same as Canadian farmers, absolutely do not want pesticide resistant weeds coming into their countries. This news is coming from our contacts in China; where one tells us his contacts in Japan feel the same way. They report that countries like China and Japan are on the watch for unwanted weed species in grains and especially pesticide resistant ones. Our Chinese contacts further tell us pesticide resistant cleavers could, and likely would, shut the border if found in canola imports; they feel the same for Japan. It is our belief and assumption that this likely applies for most countries around the world.

Farm near Kipling, SK

Farmers from all over Western Canada are telling us this is the worst year they have seen for cleavers, stating comments like “they are not in pockets like usual but are everywhere”. As we know, cleavers, given their size and shape, are difficult to clean out of canola and many are resistant to herbicides especially Group 2 herbicides. When we canvas our contacts in China as to which they feel is a bigger issue, quinclorac MRLs (Maximum Residue Limits) or herbicide resistant cleavers in canola imports, they say without a doubt herbicide resistant cleavers. They also reiterate Gerry Ritz’s words that China has no MRL issues in canola with Canada.

This brings us to question why the grain companies and the Canola Councils seem to take such an unprecedented action against quinclorac residues in looking to eliminate quinclorac? This is especially so when tested levels of quinclorac used last year were below the majority of other established pesticide MRLs registered for use on canola. Given that fact, it is our belief and opinion that the mega – profit driven chemical and grain multinationals want pesticides to go the same way as seed did in the past. The result would be fewer options, eliminating off-patent pesticides for much higher cost replacements that are under-patent. Much like seed, we believe this would take pesticides from $3 to $10 per acre (where they should be) to $40 to $50 per acre. Further, we believe that much of the epidemic spread we are seeing of cleavers is because they are in the canola seed; as farmers report that the first time getting cleavers, they were perfectly in the seed row and showed up in canola before other crops. Was not one of the biggest excuses for eliminating low cost canola seed sources that they may lead to the spread of weeds?

Given the increasingly worst cleaver outbreak ever seen by farmers, we are of the opinion that the high cost recommended methods of cleaver control are not working. Further, we are of the opinion that cleavers, especially the resistant ones we have in Canada, may not only close Chinese borders to canola but possibly Japan’s boarders and the rest of the world, essentially killing the canola industry as we know it in Canada.