Maximum Residue Limits and You

What pulse growers need to know for 2017

by Megan Madden

Did you know what you spray this season can affect your marketing options? Maximum residue limits (MRLs) are regulated under the Pest Control Products Act and are set by Health Canada, who sets science-based MRLs to ensure the food Canadians eat and export is safe. The MRLs are set at levels far below the amount that could pose a health concern for each pesticide/crop combination.

More than 85 per cent of Canada’s pulses are exported, so open market access is key to the Canadian pulse industry, and it is up to growers to ensure the product exported meets international guidelines so borders stay open to Canadian pulses.

“It is important for all growers to recognize that the world is changing with respect to trade of agricultural commodities. Several major markets are now developing and maintaining their own lists of MRL requirements for products they import,” says Corey Loessin, Radisson, SK farmer and Chair of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. “Individual country MRL lists can result in differing requirements among markets. In addition, the ability to test commodities for the presence of crop protection products in increasingly smaller amounts is leading to increased scrutiny.”

The Canadian pulse industry is working hard to eliminate market access risks. Marketing restrictions are possible from the use of certain desiccants or pesticides, so growers are asked to review MRL information before making their pulse management plan for the season.

“Start with,” says Gord Kurbis, Director, Market Access and Trade Policy, with Pulse Canada. “Pulse advisories will always be on that site because growers needed a one-stop shop for all MRL and related information. Each year the Canadian pulse industry goes through a detailed analysis of which products may require caution. This ensures that pulse exports from Canada are compliant with requirements in import markets.”

Kurbis encourages growers to visit the site regularly for the latest information. The Canadian pulse industry is now in its sixth consecutive year of grower MRL advisories, which began with one active ingredient and one country. It has evolved to be much more detailed due to ongoing shifts in the marketplace. “This year’s advisory included cautions associated with Korean MRLs for the first time, as well as three active ingredients that have new registrations for 2017,” he notes.

Loessin agrees, “The industry is doing its best to monitor market sensitivities and keep growers informed of products where particular attention is needed. It is not enough to assume a product registered for use in Canada is acceptable in all importing markets. Check the information on to ensure the product does not have additional restrictions depending on the market destination.”

Always follow label directions, especially rates and timing. Some products present market access concerns only when used later on in the growing season, but have no market implications when applied earlier. Exceeding the labelled rate increases the risk in surpassing recognized MRLs and can
have serious consequences in terms of both domestic pesticide laws, and international acceptance of the crop.

Use of most products on registered crops, at the registered rate, and at correct timing poses no risk but continued access to this use pattern depends on proper and strict adherence to rate and timing of applications. Desiccants and harvest aids have more potential for residue on the seed, therefore growers must ensure that they use approved methods to ensure product residue remains below MRLs set by regulatory agencies.

Loessin notes that glyphosate is under specific scrutiny from both regulators and the public, so growers need to be diligent in usage, particularly with pre-harvest application. “It is imperative that registered rates not be exceeded, and that application timing is precise. Applications made too early - when seed moisture is too high and maturity has not been reached - are the most problematic when it comes to residues potentially exceeding the MRL,” he cautions. “The applicator must be certain seed moisture content is below 30 per cent, and if in doubt, wait and seek additional timing advice.”

Growers are also encouraged to consult exporters and processors about crop protection management plans to ensure crops are acceptable to international markets.

For pulse crop production in Western Canada, the products to pay attention to for 2017 include:

  • diquat (Reglone®)
  • glyphosate (Roundup®)
  • saflufenacil (Heat®)
  • glufosinate (MPower® Good Harvest®)
  • flumioxazin (Valtera™)
  • carfentrazone (Aim®, CleanStart®)
  • benzovindiflupyr (Solatenol®, Elatus™)
  • chlorpyrifos (Lorsban™ and other trade names)

For more information on this, please view the MRL chart here.