CALGARY -- India has rejected a long-standing exemption on pest treatment for peas and lentils in a blow to Canada's top export market for the crops.

Federal Agriculture Minister spokesman Guy Gallant confirmed the Indian government has not granted another six-month exemption that would have crops fumigated on arrival, rather than before export, as has been allowed for more than a decade.

The decision puts Canada's pulse exports to the country, worth $1.1-billion in 2016 and $1.5-billion in 2015, in jeopardy because the required treatment of methyl bromide doesn't work in the cold and also is being phased out because it's damaging to the ozone layer. | READ MORE
Canada's producers of peas and lentils are preparing for the possibility that their largest market may soon shut down imports because of a purported problem with pests.

For more than a decade, India has allowed Canada to treat pulse shipments for pests after shipping rather than before. But that may come to an end next month.

The fumigation of pulse pests requires the use of methyl bromide, a pesticide that Canada is trying to phase out because of concerns it depletes the ozone layer. It also doesn't work well in Canada's colder temperatures, leaving pulse producers with few options.

The stakes for the country's estimated 12,000 pulse farms are high. Canada shipped $1.5 billion worth of peas and lentils to India in 2015, accounting for about a third of all pulse exports.

"That's why we're very concerned," said Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada.

Bacon said the federal government submitted documents to India in December pressing its case that the risks of Canadian pulse crops carrying pests is minimal because of the winter climate.

"India's message has become much more firm in terms of what their intention is at the end of March, which is why we're much more concerned now," he said.

Pulse producers are now eagerly waiting for a response, with an answer possibly coming in days. But shipments are already being disrupted, Bacon said, with at least one shipping firm refusing to take pulses this past Monday because of the uncertainty.

"It's hugely problematic for the industry when there's no clarity on what the policy will be," said Bacon.

The Indian government could not be reached for comment. But a notice issued by the India Pulses and Grains Association summarized a presentation that the Indian government made last month.

According to the notice, an Indian government official said methyl bromide is the only effective treatment against pulse pests, Indian exporters follow requirements of other countries and importers should do the same, and India shouldn't bear the risks to the ozone layer alone.

The association's notice said the government official also outlined potential alternatives, including the possibility of countries submitting data proving that other treatments are equally effective, a system-wide preventative approach assessed by Indian officials, or cargo pre-inspection. | READ MORE
Full registration of the imidazolinone-tolerant (IMI-tolerant) chickpea system with recommended chickpea varieties and registered Solo herbicide is imminent. Two IMI-tolerant chickpea varieties – CDC Alma (Kabuli-type) and CDC Cory (Desi-type) – have already been developed. The Prairie Pesticide Minor Use Consortium has submitted the application for Solo herbicide use on IMI-tolerant chickpea to the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and registration could be received in early 2017.  
There is nothing sweet about this disease. Chocolate spot has devastated fababean crops in Australia and Europe, but so far, western Canadian growers have managed to miss most of the damaging effects of the disease.
Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional profile of a given food crop is improved through plant breeding. In Canada, the biofortification of pulse crops to improve micronutrient content (or “trace elements”) is becoming a major focus of breeding programs.
Pulse crops in rotation provide a range of ongoing benefits to subsequent crops, such as reducing fertilizer costs, providing a break in pest cycles and increasing yield. Estimating the nitrogen (N) benefits or credits to the system can be challenging, and researchers continue to improve methods that provide a more accurate assessment of N and carbon (C) in cropping systems.
When Meghan Moran, the canola and edible bean specialist for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), is out at an event, soybean growers usually outnumber edible bean growers. “Sometimes the soybean growers will ask if small seeded dry beans, or edible beans, are more profitable,” she says. “And the truth is that they are!” 
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs reports dry edible bean acres were lower in 2016 than they were in 2015.
The Canadian Grain Commission has announced grading changes to Canadian fababeans, chickpeas and wheat. 

As of July 1, 2017, all grades of fababeans will have an ergot tolerance of 0.05 per cent in Eastern Canada. In Western Canada, all grades of fababeans and chickpeas will have an ergot tolerance of 0.05 per cent as of August 1, 2017. Ergot is a cereal disease that is toxic to people and animals. Ergot does not occur in these crops, but cross-contamination can occur during handling. Adding a tolerance for ergot in fababeans and chickpeas will help guarantee the safety of Canadian grain. A tolerance of 0.05 per cent is consistent with the other pulses in the Official Grain Grading Guide.

The tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage in No. 3 Canada Western Red Spring, No. 3 Canada Western Hard White Spring and No. 3 Canada Northern Hard Red wheat will be tightened from eight per cent to six per cent, effective August 1, 2017. The tolerance for grasshopper and army worm damage was tightened after research showed that eight per cent grasshopper and army worm damage can impact end-use functionality.

These changes are based on recommendations made to the Canadian Grain Commission by the Eastern Standards Committee and the Western Standards Committee at their meetings in November. The Canadian Grain Commission also reiterated its commitment to continuing to evaluate new technologies for objectively assessing grain for factors such as deoxynivalenol (DON).
Prince Edward Island producers are experimenting with pulse crops, growing fababean and pea trials across the Island. CBC News reports. | READ MORE
After the pain, you could say there’s been some gain for the edible dry bean industry in Ontario.

“That rejected shipment in 2008 forced the entire industry to sit up and take notice,” says Chris Gillard, dry bean agronomy and pest management professor at the University of Guelph at Ridgetown.

That year, glyphosate was detected at more than two parts per million (ppm), which is the maximum residue level (MRL) for beans exported to Japan.

The incident prompted questions about desiccant application rates, timing and tank-mix combinations.

Eight years after the original incident, Ontario bean growers have new product options and much more information at their fingertips for the sensitive tasks associated with bean dry-down and weed control at harvest time.

Gillard was one of four scientists in three provinces who searched for dilemma-solving options on behalf of Canada’s bean industry in 2010 through 2012. Preliminary results of their efforts were available to growers in 2013, but it was June 2015 before final results were published in the Canadian Journal of Plant Science.

Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta are Canada’s major dry bean producers, responsible for about 45, 40 and 15 per cent, respectively, of the national dry bean acreage in 2014. They grow five classes of beans: navy, cranberry, kidney, pinto and great northern. In Ontario, six desiccants are registered to aid growers by drying down the mature bean crop for harvest.

In 2008, growers had the option of desiccating the bean crop with carfentrazone, diquat, glufosinate or glyphosate. Concerns over price and ability to control weeds at harvest led many growers to select glyphosate.

At the time, the stage was ripe for seed residues to create obstacles in exporting the bean crop.

Gillard and colleagues wrote: “Although desiccants have long been used to aid dry bean harvest, little [was] known about seed residue levels following application, relative rates of desiccation between harvest aids, and possible yield or quality impacts, making it difficult for producers and contractors to confidently choose a desiccant.”

Now, Canada’s dry bean growers have the science and data to confidently choose their product for the sensitive dry-down period.

“Glyphosate still is registered as a pre-harvest aid for weed control in dry beans, but it is not a true desiccant. True desiccants are relatively quick in their activity. Glyphosate is not a quick-acting chemical, so it’s never been registered as a desiccant,” Gillard says.

Two new desiccants have been registered in Ontario since 2008. Flumioxazin (trade name Valtera) was registered in 2009 and saflufenacil (Eragon) was registered in 2013. Both were in the testing program that followed the MRL incident.

“They tend to be more expensive than glyphosate but have use rates much lower than several of the other desiccants on the market,” he says. “Both are in the same protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitor class as a third chemical that was registered a few years before: carfentrazone-ethyl (Aim EC). All three are relatively fast acting and carry a low risk of residue because they don’t translocate within the plant.”

The three-province study used all six products at 11 sites and generated a lot of data. Three professional papers were published.

This research examined the speed of crop and weed desiccation for each registered product, alone and in combination with glyphosate. Impact on dry bean yield and quality was measured, and MRLs were examined.

Research results
One difference was speed of desiccation.

“Eragon probably is the fastest PPO-inhibitor, followed closely by Valtera,” Gillard says. “Guys have to be careful with using Eragon. In a timing study, we put it on early and at 70 per cent crop maturity it caused a yield loss due to smaller seed. It’s so fast-acting that it can kill the plant before the seed finishes filling.”

A second reason for being careful with Eragon is that it can’t be used on any beans going to Europe. To this point, the European Union has not set MRLs for Eragon. However, it is accepted in the United States, Japan and countries that rely on the international Codex Alimentarius food standards for safety, quality and fairness.

“Diquat has been around forever. It’s relatively expensive and it has some issues. It’s fairly toxic to people, so it’s not as safe to use [as Eragon]. On the other hand, it is very fast acting. I think Eragon is as fast as diquat, and it doesn’t have the user exposure problems,” he says.

“Ignite has been around forever. It has an advantage in that it can be sprayed a little earlier. It’s halfway between a true desiccant and glyphosate in speed of activity. It can be put on the plants at about 70 per cent pod maturity.”

But, the residue analysis testing of seed samples identified an issue for Ignite.

“We actually found some residue issues with Ignite when it was applied a bit after its minimum application date,” Gillard says. “That generated some concern, because we can’t have residues on the seed that are above the MRLs allowed for end use markets.”

That leads into another point. Residue limits vary from market to market. Some markets don’t even have residue limits for some products. If residue analysis detects a product that isn’t listed for a residue limit, the country can reject the shipment.

“If you’re growing a crop that will be exported, you need to work with the processor to understand the MRLs for the country where the crop will end up,” Gillard says.

“You can use a product so long as it’s used properly. But, for instance, there is no MRL set in the U.S. for diquat on dry beans. If you use the product, and if they detect it, in their mind they can refuse delivery because you have used an unregistered product.”

For an exporter, the lack of an MRL for a product in a particular market can be seen as a non-tariff trade barrier.

While the industry here can encourage a market to set an MRL for each product registered here, in practice the responsibility for meeting market standards rests with growers.

“It’s a three-step process,” Gillard says. “First, start with the dealer or processor. Find out what products are available to use based on where the crop will end up. Second, look at the accepted products. See how fast-acting they are. Follow the label closely for timing and for water volume. Determine which one will do the best job of desiccating the crop. Third, look at weed control. What productivity do you want on the weed escapes that will be in the crop close to harvest? All of these desiccants are herbicides with unique advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the weed species controlled. That’s three-tiered decision-making.”

Online information
Data from the three years of study and two years of residue analysis is now bearing fruit. According to Gillard, today Canada’s pulse industry is stronger and better informed. Detailed information relating to MRLs, rates, timing and tank mixes are available through processors and contractors.

Summary information is available online at websites operated by Saskatchewan Pulse Growers.
A rainy stretch of weather, including several downpours, has led to concern in Saskatchewan about the state of this year's crop. | READ MORE

by Rod Nickel

Apr. 18, 2016 - Canadian farmers intend to plant more peas and lentils than ever before, as strong Indian demand stokes interest in pulse crops, according to a Reuters industry poll ahead of a government report.

Pulses amount for a fraction of Canada's planted area compared to wheat and canola, the country's largest crops. But this year they have been the talk of the western Prairies as farmers made seeding plans.

Back-to-back droughts in India, the world's largest importer of edible oils and pulses, has boosted prices and made pulses attractive to Canadian farmers. Pulses are an important protein source in the Indian diet.

"Most years everyone wants to know the canola (area). This year it's, 'what are lentils doing?'" said Chuck Penner, analyst at LeftField Commodity Research. Pulse interest "is pushing aside some other crops or limiting the expansion of other crops."

Farmers intend to plant 5 million acres of lentils and 4.6 million acres of peas, shattering records, according to average estimates in an overall crop survey of 15 traders and analysts.

Pulses are expected to shift some land away from spring wheat plantings, as the all-wheat area may fall about 4 percent to 23.2 million acres. Canola plantings are expected to total 20.4 million acres, up 1.5 percent from last year.

Statistics Canada will estimate farmers' planting intentions on Thursday. The agency surveyed farmers from March 16 to 31.

With smaller forecast plantings of spring wheat in both Canada and the United States, supplies could tighten modestly over the next year depending on how crops fare, said Wayne Palmer, market analyst at AgriTrend.

International Grains Council forecasts that world wheat production will fall to 713 million tonnes in 2016/17 from 734 million in 2015/16.

Most planting in Western Canada, the country's wheat and canola belt, happens in May.

Spring floods, which can slow or prevent farmers from seeding crops, are unlikely this year on the Canadian Prairies, but some regions are parched.

Soils in central Alberta and that province's Peace River region are dry, and may slow early development of canola and barley crops, Penner said.

Canada is the world's second largest wheat exporter and the biggest shipper of canola, a cousin of rapeseed used largely to produce vegetable oil.


Mar. 31, 2016 - Saskatchewan Pulse Growers (SPG) is pleased to announce over $2 million in funding over five years for the continuation of the Weed Research Program "Enhancing Weed Science in Pulse Crops: Towards a robust strategy for long-term weed management" led by University of Saskatchewan (U of S) researcher Dr. Chris Willenborg.

Weed management is critical for successful production of pulses as most pulse crops are not very competitive. "Working with researchers to develop integrated weed and crop management options for pulses is a key priority for SPG," says board chair Tim Wiens. "Herbicide resistance is becoming a more significant issue for pulse growers, and we believe that through support of the Weed Program at the U of S, we will be successful in developing effective management options for growers."

SPG's new over $2 million funding commitment is building on the organization's previous five-year investment to the Weed Research Program. Program results from the first five-year term included assisting in reducing the sulfentrazone (Authority) re-cropping interval for canola to 12 months after application and lentils to 24 months, improving the tolerance of field peas to Odyssey and assisting with the development of IMI-tolerant chickpeas. The program has also seen some success in managing cleavers in high organic matter soils by 'herbicide layering', which is combining pre-seed short-term soil residual herbicides with post-emergence in-crop treatments.

Over the next five years the Weed Research Program aims to establish new Minor Use herbicide registrations for pulses, improve knowledge of competitive traits in pulses for incorporation into future varieties, provide new integrated weed management options for growers, and to understand the impact of soil residual herbicides on re-cropping restrictions for newly emerging pulse crops such as faba beans. Additionally, the program has designated funds to investigate the potential of novel technologies such as robotics.

"The number of herbicide options for controlling weeds in pulses is limited and is focused on a few modes-of-action," states Eric Johnson, a research assistant working with Dr. Willenborg's weed program. "The risk of contributing to herbicide resistance is high in pulse crops. The work done in the Weed Program not only provides more herbicide options to growers, but also strives to develop integrated strategies that will enable growers to manage weeds economically and effectively, and also reduce the risk of evolved resistance."


Pulse crops in rotation provide a range of ongoing benefits to subsequent crops, such as reducing fertilizer costs, providing a break in pest cycles and increasing yield. Estimating the nitrogen (N) benefits or credits to the system can be challenging, and researchers continue to improve methods that provide a more accurate assessment of N and carbon (C) in cropping systems.

Ultimately more accurate assessments will improve cropping system footprinting estimates for C or greenhouse gas emissions, for example.

Researchers in Saskatchewan initiated a four-year field-scale project in 2014, based on the success of an earlier greenhouse project, to compare several pulses in rotation and their N contributions to the cropping system. This study, led by Richard Farrell and Diane Knight at the University of Saskatchewan and in collaboration with Reynald Lemke from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, includes side-by-side comparisons of lentil, field pea, chickpea and fababean in rotation with wheat. Researchers are using a stable isotope method to label N and C in the pulse crops to track their movements in the plant and into the soil.

“Our goal is to be able to provide a better picture of the overall N balance in the cropping system, including above and belowground N (BGN), and a refined estimate of biological N2fixation,” Lemke explains. “The use of N-labelling allows us to track the disposition of N both in the above and belowground parts of the crops, and ultimately determine how much N is fixed and possibly left for subsequent crops. This will help us answer the question of how much additional N the pulse crop contributed, how much ended up in the following wheat crop and helps improve the accuracy of estimating the N credit.”

Four pulse crops, including lentil, field pea, chickpea and fababean, plus a wheat control plot, were planted in the first cycle in 2014 in replicated field plots near Saskatoon. The N and C were labelled in each crop, as well as the N fertilizer applied to the wheat control in year one. In year two, wheat was seeded across all of the plots, and a modest level of unlabelled N fertilizer was applied.

“The labelling helps us track the sources of N into the following wheat crop, which is important not only for estimating the N benefit and any N credits returned to the cropping system and where those benefits came from, but also estimating how much is from fertilizer,” Lemke says. “The approach allows us to clearly distinguish the amount of N in the wheat that originated from aboveground residues, belowground residues and N fertilizer separately. As well, the approach allows us to determine how much of the C that was contributed by the pulse crop persists in the soil after the subsequent wheat crop is harvested.”

The results from the first two years of the field study are preliminary and researchers are still analyzing the data collected after the 2015 harvest. There are plans to continue the study for an additional two years. “From the first year preliminary results, the findings are so far consistent with what other long-term studies have shown and the earlier greenhouse study, where BGN contributions are higher than previously accounted for,” Lemke says. “All of the pulses fixed a fairly high percentage of N, which means they should be leaving behind a reasonable amount of N for the next crop. Although fababean has always been promoted as a higher fixer of N, the preliminary results show the differences between all of the pulses was not that great, they all did very well, with fababean only slightly better. Generally, any of the pulses are proving to be a good option in rotation.”

Fine-tuning N management, footprinting calculations
Providing a more accurate assessment of belowground N and C will help growers improve N utilization and fine-tune overall N management in their cropping systems. “By having a better understanding of how much N is available to the next crop, how much is used by the crop and where any remaining N ends up, whether stabilized in the soil organic matter or lost to the system, is important,” Lemke says. “For growers, by doing the best job of N management they can, helps improve their economics, reduce fertilizer inputs and potential losses (e.g. nitrous oxide N2O) and can improve long-term sustainability of their cropping systems. This also loops back to the marketplace, where greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and footprinting negotiations are very real.”

Lemke expects that results from their research will also be an important contribution for fine-tuning national GHG inventories, such as amounts of N2 fixed by different crops, amounts of C sequestered by cropping systems, as well as N2O losses and the percentage of those losses that come from N fertilizers or from the N in crop residues. “For growers, estimating N2O losses is generally a good indicator of efficiency of N utilization and management in their cropping system. N2O is a very powerful GHG, so reducing losses not only improves the GHG footprint of cropping systems, but also benefits growers directly by improving their economics.”

Overall, pulses are providing a broader benefit to the whole system by not requiring N fertilizer inputs in the year they are grown plus the N credit they provide to the subsequent crops that reduces the amount of N fertilizer required, improving the overall cropping system GHG footprint. Pulse crops are providing benefits in rotation by restraining emissions and improving the CO2 footprinting, whether calculated on a direct emission or intensity basis (number of units of a crop grown per unit of GHG emitted). Research is underway to compare crop sequencing and overall rotation benefits.

“We expect to have preliminary project results available early in 2016, and plan to extend the project for two more years, which will help us quantify the measures much better,” Lemke says. “Growers will be able to improve their overall N utilization and maximize the benefits of pulses in rotation, at the same time as having improved estimates for future footprinting activities. Pulses in rotation are proving to be an important rotation management component of the whole cropping system, with economic and footprinting benefits, as well as other rotational benefits for breaking disease, weed and insect pest cycles.”  


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