Bumblebees are less able to start colonies when exposed to a common neonicotinoid pesticide, according to a new University of Guelph study.
With positive 2016 field results, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved registration for a new product for turf, as well as other possible applications.

The abamectin-based nematicide product, code-named “VCP-11” is approved for use on turfgrass including greens, tees and fairways. VCP-11 uses Vive’s proprietary delivery system (Allosperse) to help the nematicide penetrate the thatch and control parasitic nematodes below the soil surface. In field trials conducted in Florida, Louisiana, and Australia, VCP-11 increased turf quality over leading competitors.

VCP-11 will be available for turf application this year, and is being tested in crops that are also susceptible to nematodes such as soybeans and potatoes in 2017.

Field results
The field results from 2016 show Vive’s products are delivering on their promises. “Corn yields in 2015 and 2016 saw an average increase of over six bushels per acre. About 80 percent of the 24 fields in the program had a yield bump with in-furrow AZteroid FC application,” says Darren Anderson, co-founder of Vive Crop Protection. Several growers were also able to skip expensive applications at tassel due to reduced disease pressure and increased plant health.

“The Allosperse delivery system in AZteroid FC is the key; it allows the fungicide to be compatible with salty liquid fertilizers. Most in-furrow pesticides are not compatible with starter fertilizers and can separate in the tank or plug the application equipment. Allosperse has solved this problem,” says Anderson.

The tank mix has a one-pass application, it survives delays due to weather and doesn’t require special equipment. 

The first two products developed by Vive using the Allosperse technology are the fungicide AZteroid FC and the insecticide Bifender FC. Both mix uniformly with liquid fertilizers to be applied at planting. Both are approved for key crops in the U.S. Midwest including corn, soybeans and potatoes. AZteroid FC is also approved for use on sugar beet, cotton and peanut crops.

 “For sugar beets, control of Rhizoctonia is a key issue. The best solution is azoxystrobin in-furrow with a starter fertilizer – which is what we offer with AZteroid FC. In a sugar beet trial conducted at North Dakota State University, when AZteroid FC was applied with starter fertilizer, crops out-yielded fungicide seed treatment by 1.5 tons per acre. AZteroid FC in-furrow, on top of seed treatment with an early-season banded application, out-yielded seed treatment alone by 4.5 tons per acre,” says Anderson.

AZteroid FC in seven potato trials saw increases of 24 cwt/acre on average.
As part of the regular review process, Health Canada has completed its re-evaluation of imidacloprid, and has published its draft risk assessment for public comment. The assessment proposes current use of imidacloprid is not sustainable, and the levels of this pesticide that are being found in waterways and aquatic environments are harmful to aquatic insects, such as mayflies and midges, which are important food sources for fish, birds and other animals.
What doesn’t kill a bug sometimes makes it stronger…or bigger, or longer lived, or able to lay lots and lots of eggs. This biological phenomenon is called “hormesis.” It is an area of growing interest for entomologists, including those who study the effects of insecticides on insects. And it has important implications for agriculture.

Hormesis refers to an organism’s response to a stressor, where a low dose of the stressor causes a stimulating effect, like increased reproduction, and a high dose is very damaging or lethal. In the case of an insect, stressors could include things like insecticides, temperatures outside of the insect’s comfort range, insufficient food, and insufficient oxygen. But hormetic responses are not limited to insects. They have been observed in many, many organisms, ranging from microbes and plants to humans.

How hormesis actually works isn’t completely understood. “Probably the most commonly cited general theory is the idea of overcompensation. Systems that affect growth and reproduction [in insects and other organisms] are self-regulating and work on feedback mechanisms. So any sort of disturbance to those processes can result in the system trying to correct and overcompensate for it,” explains Chris Cutler, an associate professor with the department of environmental sciences in Dalhousie University’s faculty of agriculture. 

For instance, let’s say an insect is exposed to a low dose of a poison that causes its reproductive system to go slightly out of whack. According to the overcompensation theory, its reproductive system will attempt to counteract the problem but will temporarily overshoot its response, leading to higher reproduction. “In a general sense, I think that is kind of how hormesis operates, but we still have a lot of the nuts and bolts to figure out,” Cutler says. 

He explains that hormetic responses have evolved over millions of years as mechanisms for organisms to deal with low amounts of stress. So hormesis has always been around. However, it’s only recently that scientists have been identifying such responses as an actual phenomenon. “I think in the past, researchers would often look at [a hormetic] result and say ‘that’s weird’ or ‘that’s an outlier,’ and not really have a word to describe it. Those types of papers have gotten lost in the literature decades ago, but you can find them if you look hard enough,” he notes.

“We’ve documented incidents of hormesis in all sorts of insects, dozens of species across many different families and orders of insects, exposed to many different types of stress, whether it’s an insecticide stress, nutritional stress, temperature stress, radiation stress. So hormesis occurs widely and the concept is now pretty well accepted by researchers, and people are really starting to catch on to the idea.” 

Cutler began his research on hormesis completely by accident. “I did my PhD research at the University of Guelph and was working with the Colorado potato beetle. In one of my experiments with an insect growth regulator, which is a more selective or more friendly type of insecticide, I was exposing eggs to the insecticide. I was expecting deleterious effects, like smaller eggs, eggs that wouldn’t hatch, and that type of thing. But in one experiment, I saw that at the low dose the survival and weight of the larvae were higher than in the control. At first I thought I’d got the concentrations mixed up or something. So I repeated the experiment a couple of times and got the same result. And I stumbled on this idea of hormesis, which at that time [about a decade ago] had not garnered much attention at all in insect circles.” 

At present, the hormesis research at Cutler’s lab focuses mainly on insecticide-induced responses of various insects to various insecticides. “We’ve been using green peach aphid as a model. It is a widespread insect pest occurring all over the world, attacking lots of different crops, and insecticide resistance is a big problem in that insect,” he notes.

For example, he and his lab have been looking at how this aphid responds to imidacloprid, a commonly used neonicotinoid sold under various trade names, such as Admire. Their research shows that when the aphid is exposed to low doses of imidacloprid, the aphid’s reproductive output goes way up. Cutler says, “We’ve shown this in laboratory and greenhouse experiments where, after a few weeks, the population of the aphids on a plant can double due to exposure to the insecticide that is supposed to kill them.” 

In a field situation, many different factors can lead to less-than-lethal doses of insecticide. “Insecticides break down over time. Sunlight will break them down. They are subject to microbial degradation. They are subject to wash-off by the rain. Also, drift can occur, so you may be trying to apply a high dose but the wind takes it so you get a low dose on the plant. And you have canopy effects when you spray so you don’t get as high a dose under the leaves or further down the plant,” Cutler explains. 

“So inevitably you’re going to get insects that are exposed to these sublethal doses. And some of these low doses could be hormetic.”

Cutler sees many possible implications of hormesis for agriculture. One obvious one is that insecticide-induced hormesis could make a pest problem even worse by causing pest resurgences and secondary pest outbreaks. Pest resurgence is when the population of an insecticide-treated pest increases rapidly to even higher numbers than before the insecticide was applied. A secondary pest outbreak refers to a rapid population increase in a pest species that had been less important than the target species until the insecticide was applied.

Pest resurgences and outbreaks are often assumed to be due to the harmful effects of the insecticide on the pest’s natural enemies (the predators and parasitoids that attack it). But that assumption isn’t necessarily correct in all cases. Cutler explains, “There have been experiments that have excluded that possibility and shown the outbreak in the field – whether it’s due to aphids or thrips or leafhoppers – is directly due to stimulation from the insecticide.” 

The degree to which insecticide-induced hormesis is contributing to pest resurgences and outbreaks in agricultural fields is not yet known. However, it has been documented in many field situations.

Insecticide-induced pest resurgences and outbreaks could clearly have serious impacts on susceptible crops, and could prompt farmers to apply more insecticides, raising their input costs and increasing the risks of insecticide resistance and negative impacts on the environment.

On the other hand, hormesis has positive implications for businesses that rear insects. “Insect rearing is a billion-dollar industry. Insects are reared for a lot of different purposes – for use in research, food for pets, food for people. Honeybees are reared for honey and pollination,” Cutler notes. “I think we can probably harness some of these hormetic principles for rearing these beneficial insects. It has been shown, for instance, that when you are rearing insects like Caribbean fruit flies for sterile insect release (SIR) programs, if you deprive them of oxygen for an hour, that mild stress can prime them to become better at finding mates, become better at emerging, have lower mortality and longer life spans. So this type of preconditioning hormesis can improve the performance of those insects later in life.”

In his current research, Cutler is delving into a number of different aspects of insecticide-induced hormesis, with the help of funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. 

“One of the things we’re doing is looking at this idea of priming, so can mild exposure to one stress condition the insect to deal [more effectively] with subsequent stresses later in life or in subsequent generations? We’re looking at that in aphids.” 

Cutler and his lab are also examining the possibility that hormesis may be contributing to insecticide resistance. “We’re looking at a couple of different angles there. We want to see if exposures to low doses of insecticide that may cause hormesis also induce the insect to produce more detoxification enzymes. When you and I or insects are exposed to poisons, we have enzymes that break down those poisons. So, if the insect is exposed to mild doses of insecticide, do we see more of those enzymes?” he says.  

“[Another insecticide resistance angle] we’re looking at is whether exposure to mild doses of insecticide can increase mutations in insects. One of the main causes for mutations in organisms is stress. So we want to see if, for instance, hormetic stress that can cause increases in reproduction can also cause increases in mutations in insects such as aphids, and can some of these mutations be for insecticide resistance?”

Cutler is also investigating insecticide-induced hormesis in bees. He does a lot of research on bees and pesticides, so he’s well aware that pesticides are an important risk factor for bees. But he wondered whether insecticide-induced hormesis might occur in bees since it has been found in so many other insects. He recently published a paper identifying evidence in the literature that low doses of insecticide stimulate longevity, learning and memory of bees. Now he’ll be pursuing that idea in his own experiments. 

What you can do
Although there is still much to learn about hormesis, especially under field conditions, Cutler offers a few suggestions for practices that could help reduce the risk of insecticide-induced hormesis on your farm. 

One practice is to keep an eye on the pest population after pesticide applications. “I suspect that rapidly reproducing pests like aphids, leafhoppers and mites are more prone to outbreaks and resurgences from hormesis, although this has yet to be tested. This might be particularly true for insecticides that degrade to sublethal concentrations more quickly or for systemic insecticides (seed treatments) that work against early season pests but will be at sublethal amounts for most insects after a few weeks.”

Second, minimize drift and ensure good plant coverage when spraying insecticides. “This will minimize exposure of the pests to sublethal concentrations that might induce hormetic responses to stimulate their population growth.”

And third, avoid cutting insecticide rates below those recommended on the label. “As many growers will know, cutting rates is usually problematic because it can ‘encourage’ development of insecticide resistance while increasing the chances of suboptimal pest control. At the same time, exposure to these lower sublethal concentrations could stimulate reproduction of certain pests, possibly creating a double-whammy for the grower.”
Sept. 9, 2016 - Central and northern Alberta farmers will once again have the opportunity to turn in their obsolete or unwanted agricultural pesticides and livestock/equine medications.

“Farmers can drop off their obsolete materials at a designated collection site at no charge,” says Kim Timmer, CleanFARMS. “The products will then be transported to a high temperature incineration facility for safe disposal.”

Collections will take place in northern Alberta from Sept. 21 to 23 and in central Alberta from Oct. 3 to 7. A listing of collection sites is available at

For more information, go to
Environmental groups have launched a court challenge to federal permits for two common pesticides that some say are behind large die-offs in bee populations. | READ MORE

June 16, 2016 - Cabbage seedpod weevils are attracted to the buds on early canola plants. While they will feed on these buds and destroy some of them, spraying is rarely recommended before 10 per cent bloom.

A look at the new seed treatments, foliar fungicides, insecticides and label updates for 2016, with product information provided by the manufacturers.

Seed treatments
Apron Maxx with Intego:
[fludioxonil (Group 4) metalaxyl-m (Group 12) and ethaboxam (Group 22)]. A new seed treatment co-pack solution for peas, lentils and chickpeas that offers control of seed- and soil-borne diseases caused by Fusarium, Pythium and Rhizoctonia, along with suppression of Aphanomyces root rot and root rot caused by phytophthora.

Consensus L seed treatment: [indole-3-butyric acid, salicylic acid, chitosan]. A unique pulse seed treatment designed to promote early germination and quicker root development; for use on lentils, peas and soybeans. This product may be applied by commercial seed treaters as a water-based slurry through standard slurry or mist-type commercial seed treatment equipment.

Deflect: [tebuconazole (Group 3) and metalaxyl (Group 4)]. A multiple mode of action fungicide. It controls certain seed-, seedling- and soil-borne diseases of wheat, barley and oats, including loose smut, seedling blight caused by seed-borne Fusarium spp. and damping-off caused by Pythium spp.

Insure Pulse: [metalaxyl (Group 4), xemium (Group 7) and pyraclostrobin (Group 11)]. For multiple mode of action, broad spectrum control of key seed- and soil-borne diseases. With the active ingredient xemium and its unique mobility characteristics, Insure Pulse is the first truly systemic pulse fungicide seed treatment to be offered to western Canadian pulse and flax growers. Insure Pulse also offers AgCelence benefits for more consistent and increased germination and emergence, including under cold conditions, enhanced seedling vigour above and below ground, and an enhanced ability to manage exposure to environmental stresses. Insure Pulse is available in a ready to use formulation.

Rancona Pinnacle: [ipconazole (Group 3) and metalaxyl (Group 4)]. A new seed treatment that combines two different modes of action for contact and systemic activity for broad spectrum disease control in wheat, barley, oat, rye and triticale. This unique combination of ipconazole and metalaxyl fungicides control both seed- and soil-borne diseases such as Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Cochliobolus, smuts, and bunts, improving stand establishment while protecting the yield potential of the crop.

Sombrero: [imidacloprid (Group 4)]. A highly effective seed treatment insecticide providing broad spectrum control of above and below ground pests. As the plant grows, systemic action transports Sombrero throughout the developing stem and leaves, ensuring lasting insect control, giving the crop the defense to grow to its potential. Registered for on-farm use in wheat (spring, winter and durum), barley, oats and soybeans, and by commercial treaters in canola, mustard and corn.

Foliar fungicides
[azoxystrobin (Group 11) and aenzovindiflupyr - trade name Solatenol - (Group 7)]. A new dual mode of action fungicide for use on pulse crops, including chickpeas, field peas and lentils. Elatus provides excellent preventative activity on major pulse diseases, such as ascochyta blight, anthracnose and mycosphaerella blight. Elatus offers one convenient, targeted rate across all pulse crops, with one case treating up to 40 acres by ground or aerial application.

Evito: [fluoxastrobin (Group 11)]. A new foliar fungicide applied to wheat, barley, potato, corn and soybean. Evito is a systemic, strobilurin fungicide that enters the plant quickly providing reliable disease protection against major leaf diseases. Evito, combined with its excellent disease control, low use rate and concentrated formulation, provides the grower with an efficient and effective fungicide for foliar application.

Exempla: [difenoconazole (Group 3) and azoxystrobin (Group 11)]. A new dual mode of action fungicide for use on canola. Exempla provides preventative and curative activity on sclerotinia stem rot, alternaria black spot and blackleg. Exempla is available in a convenient, pre-mix formulation and features a single use rate for sclerotinia, along with flexible application timing from 20 to 50 per cent flowering.

Lance AG: [boscalid (Group 7) with pyraclostrobin (Group 11)]. Delivers enhanced performance including control of sclerotinia and other late season diseases in canola, pulses and alfalfa for seed production. Research shows Lance AG also delivers the unique AgCelence benefits, including enhancing the plant’s ability to better manage minor stress during the critical flowering period, often resulting in reduced flower blasting, increased photosynthesis and increased yield potential.

Orondis Ultra: [mandipropamid (Group 40) and oxathiapiprolin (Group U15)]. A new fungicide that provides an unprecedented 21 days of preventative, residual late blight (Phytophthora infestans) control in potatoes. Orondis Ultra features the new active ingredient, oxathiapiprolin, which penetrates the leaf surface and moves within the plant to protect existing and new growth. In addition to potatoes, Orondis Ultra can be used on various vegetable crops to control oomycete diseases.

Quash: [metconazole (Group 3)]. A flexible fungicide for use on canola, chickpea, dry bean, field pea, lentil, potato and sunflower. It provides effective overall plant protection by quickly moving through the cuticle of the plant and by providing residual activity. It delivers protection from sclerotinia in canola, as well as several diseases in pulse crops. Quash is now registered for excellent control of sclerotinia in canola over a full rate range from 56 to 85 g/ac, giving growers and agronomists the opportunity to tailor their level of application to the level of risk in their fields.

Topnotch: [azoxystrobin (Group 11) and propiconazole (Group 3)]. A new xylem mobile fungicide that provides preventative and curative protection from a broad spectrum of diseases, including rusts, tan spot, septoria, scald and net blotch. Registered for use in wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale. Topnotch is tank-mixable with numerous herbicides and insecticides.

Label updates
Prosaro 250 EC:
[prothioconazole (Group 3) and tebuconazole (Group 3)]. Now registered for use on oat to control crown rust, stem rust, stagonospora leaf blotch and black stem.

Voliam Xpress [lambda-cyhalothrin (Group 3) and chlorantraniliprole (Group 28)]. An insecticide for use on canola, Voliam Xpress delivers fast knock down of pests followed by residual control in order to control pests at varying lifecycles. Voliam Xpress can be applied by ground or air when insect pests begin to build, but before they reach economically damaging levels.


Jan. 20, 2016 - ADAMA Canada is adding three new products to their line­up - one insecticide, and two herbicides.

Sombrero 600 FS is a systemic insecticide that provides early season control of wireworms in cereals, corn and soybeans as well as flea beetles in canola. As the plant grows, Sombrero is transported throughout the developing stem and leaves, ensuring lasting insect control and giving the crop the defence to grow to its potential. Its active ingredient, imidacloprid, helps lay out bugs both above and below ground. This product is available in both Eastern and Western Canada.

Hotshot, ADAMA's new co-pack, is a glyphosate tank-mix partner for pre-seed burn-off to control a wide range of annual broadleaf weeds including Group 2 and 9 resistant kochia, volunteer canola including glyphosate resistant, wild buckwheat, dandelion and narrow-leaved hawk's beard. Hotshot consists of the active ingredients bromoxynil and florasulam, and when it's combined with glyphosate, it creates a weed resistance tag team that smokes early season weeds.This product is available in Western Canada.

Squadron is a broad spectrum herbicide registered for grass and broadleaf weed control in a wide range of crops, most notably lentils, peas, chickpeas, fababeans, soybeans and potatoes. Powered by the active ingredient metribuzin, Squadron is an excellent resistance management tool. This product is available in both Eastern and Western Canada.

These products hit the market in early 2016.


Striped flea beetles Phyllotreta striolata. Photo by D. Pageau, AAFC Normandin, Que.

Flea beetles have been causing economic damage to cruciferous crops for decades and continue to be a problem pest for canola growers and crucifer vegetable crops across Canada. In a December 2003 Top Crop Manager article, researchers noted: “Even though flea beetles have been a problem for canola growers for many years, alternative methods have not been easily discovered.” At that time, the beginnings of an integrated flea beetle research program were underway.

Researchers have continued working on alternative flea beetle control methods over the past decade. And although some options show promise, over 90 per cent of canola grown in Western Canada today is treated with an insecticide for flea beetle control. Seed treatments are predominant, with an additional application of foliar insecticide when feeding damage encompasses 25 per cent of the leaf surface.

However, an integrated approach that could include host plant resistance is now becoming a promising option.

Flea beetles introduced to Canada
“The two most economically damaging species of flea beetles are both introduced species to Canada, the striped flea beetle and the crucifer flea beetle,” Julie Soroka, research scientist, entomology with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in Saskatoon, Sask., says. The striped flea beetle (Phyllotreta striolata) was first recorded in New York in 1776 and gradually spread throughout the continent. It was not considered a problem, as populations were not concentrated in any one area. The crucifer flea beetle (Phyllotreta cruciferae) was first recorded in 1921 in British Columbia, rapidly spreading its way east into the Prairies, causing significant damage to cabbages and other crucifer crops by the 1940s and 1950s. A third species native to Canada, the hop flea beetle (Psylliodes punctulata), is present in small numbers across Canada.

The crucifer flea beetle continued moving east to Manitoba’s Red River Valley and, by the 1960s and 1970s populations exploded, especially as canola acreage increased. “As canola acreage spread westward from Manitoba, the numbers of crucifer flea beetles also increased, pushing the striped flea beetles, which are more tolerant to cold and emerge earlier, to the northern edge of their range in the Peace River area,” Soroka says. “At that time, the hop flea beetle was actually the predominant species in the Peace. By the late 1990s, the crucifer flea beetle was the primary pest in over 70 to 80 per cent of the canola growing area in Western Canada.”

Soroka began a flea beetle monitoring program in 2001 that showed that flea beetle distribution remained relatively similar until about 2005. The situation changed between 2005 and 2007. “At that time, canola acreage was increasing, and in the Peace River [region] and other areas, growers started growing canola in shorter rotations,” Soroka notes. “This period also coincided with deregistration of the insecticide Lindane, which was equally effective on all three species. Since 2003, all seed treatments registered for control of flea beetles in Canada contain a neonicotinoid insecticide, which research has shown to be less effective on striped flea beetle populations.”

Between 2005 and 2007, Soroka started to notice striped flea beetle showing up more often in survey results. More intensive monitoring showed striped flea beetle had taken over the Peace Region and had moved as far south as the monitoring went. “Currently striped flea beetles have supplanted crucifer flea beetles as the principle flea beetle across most of the Prairies, except in the very southern regions and the Red River Valley area that has mixed populations,” Soroka says. “We believe this shift has been generated by several factors, including heavy use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. Until we can develop alternative strategies such as host plant resistance, growers for now are relying on chemical seed treatments for control of flea beetles.”

Hairy canola shows promise
As part of an integrated flea beetle management strategy, plant molecular breeders and entomologists began working on developing canola germplasm with protection against flea beetles in early 2002. “We initially introduced a trichome (or hair) gene from Arabidopsis thaliana, a close wild relative of canola, into the canola cultivar Westar,” Margaret Gruber, AAFC research scientist, explains. “This original transgenic experimental line of canola had a large density of hairs on the first three leaves, a few on the fourth leaf, but none on any other leaves or cotyledons. In laboratory and field studies led by Julie Soroka at Saskatoon and Lethbridge, crucifer flea beetles didn’t like feeding on hairy canola. Unfortunately the agronomics of that first experimental line, Hairy 1, were poor.”

In a second project, researchers developed a new line of hairy plants by depressing the activity of a second trichome gene within the Hairy 1 canola plant. The resulting line of plants, Hairy 2, had higher trichome density with longer hairs spread over the first 12 leaves and along parts of the stem. “This new plant line with expanded trichome density and coverage also had flea beetle resistance on the hairy leaves and non-hairy cotyledons, as well as some resistance to diamondback moth,” Gruber notes. “Although all cotyledons of canola are hairless, those from the hairy canola germplasm are resistant to flea beetles.”

The good news is the agronomics of the Hairy 2 canola line were so improved that the plants grew as well as the Westar control plants, and the seed yield was more variable (towards higher yield).

Gruber and her team also compared seed composition from the field trials of both lines. They found that all hairy canola plants had identical oil, protein, chlorophyll and glucosinolate levels as the control plants, except for some variability in two factors. Minor fatty acids in the seed oil of Hairy 1 plants were slightly lower, and three glucosinolates were more variable and slightly higher in Hairy 2 seeds, although still very close to the levels in the Westar control plant (in which the gene modifications had been undertaken). This meant transferring the enhanced trichome trait into a current commercial cultivar should result in seed quality within industry standards.

The information on these transgenic experimental hairy canola lines was shared with industry and plant breeders. Seed and genetic tools are also available from Agriculture Canada for others to transfer the trichome trait into their own elite B. napus germplasm.

One other study underway compared 1000 accessions of natural (non-transgenic) plant germplasm collected by Plant Gene Resources of Canada to evaluate hair density patterns within all of the Brassica species used in canola and mustard breeding. Researchers were looking to select plants with the most number of hairs spread evenly over the young leaves and stems, or plants with no hairs at all. If the coverage is patchy, insects will eat around the hairs.

“We are now looking across these different selected plants for real commonalities in gene expression patterns within hairy leaves compared with non-hairy leaves and cotyledons,” Gruber says. “For example, B. nigra (black mustard) is very hairy, although not as hairy as our hairy canola lines. B. villosa, a native species, is most hairy and averages 4000 hairs/cm2 on the leaves, but as with all of the other species, it has no hairs on the cotyledons.

“We have also found natural B. napus canola accessions with hairier leaves than in current cultivars. We are comparing expression intensities for all genes that influence hair density, growth or metabolites that influence insect fitness or attraction or avoidance of food. These plants and their genetic information are road maps that can be used in future breeding efforts to create non-transgenic host resistance to insect pests.”

In the field and lab trials of these projects, the hairy canola plants were resistant to both species of Phyllotreta flea beetles, in some cases surpassing the protection level provided by neonicotinoid seed treatments. “In our field trials in 2006, virtually all of the flea beetles were crucifer, but by 2012 at our Saskatoon field location, close to 80 per cent were striped flea beetles,” Soroka notes. “The results of our lab trials showed that striped flea beetles are as repelled by hairy canola as are crucifer flea beetles, unlike their insecticide responses. The hairy canola plants were also somewhat resistant to diamondback moth.”

Over the years several others were involved in the project, including Song Wang (former MSc student) and Ushan Alahakoon (former PhD student) who developed the two transgenic hairy canola lines. Gruber adds Peta Bonham-Smith, with the biology department at the University of Saskatchewan co-supervised both of the students, “and has collaborated with me from the beginning on hairy canola.” Visiting fellows Ali Taheri, Nagabushana Nayidu, and Zohreh Heydarian are still working on expressed gene analyses, and Larry Grenkow and Jennifer Holowachuk played major roles in field trials. Dwayne Hegedus is carrying the project forward. Funding outside of AAFC came from western Canadian canola growers groups, the Alberta Agricultural Institute, and the Saskatchewan Agricultural Development Fund.

Should hairy canola cultivars result from these efforts, growers could have alternatives to insecticides for control of flea beetles, and potentially other pests such as diamondback moth. Growers would then be able to implement an integrated flea beetle management program for canola. Researchers say the trichome trait will also be transferable to crucifer vegetable crops.


November 17, 2014 - When harvest winds down, it means thousands of Ontario farmers and pesticide vendors can be in the classroom to certify in pesticide safety.

Farmers and vendors can register for one of the 350 courses offered across the province, each led by experienced instructors, some who have facilitated for over 20 years. The instructors themselves receive their own training on current topics ranging from protecting pollinators to active learning strategies.

This year, the Ontario Pesticide Education Program expects over 5, 500 growers to complete the Grower Pesticide Safety Course and about 300 Ontario vendors to take the Pesticide Vendor Certification Course this year. Courses are also being held to help Certified Farmers train their supervised workers.

Huron County instructor, Jacquie Bishop says “I thought this was one of the most informative sessions that we have had. It was great to have industry speakers give us background information that will spice up our courses for those returning growers.”

The Ontario Pesticide Education Program has offered courses since 1987, focusing on product information, health and environmental risk management, pesticide application and pesticide safety practices. Currently, over
22, 000 growers and 1, 000 vendors are certified.

The program is supported by farmers, the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, pesticide companies and pesticide retailers.

See the full listing of in-class and online courses at, or call 1-800-652-8573. Courses may also be offered at your local pesticide dealership.

For more information, contact:

Susan Kelner
Ontario Pesticide Education Program
University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus
Ridgetown, ON
519-674-1500 x63584
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Nov. 4, 2014 - Fortenza seed treatment is now registered for early-season cutworm control. According to a news release from Syngenta, Fortenza can be used in conjunction with foliar products as part of canola growers' cutworm management strategy.

Fortenza contains the the active ingredient cyantraniliprole, which belongs to the bisamide chemistry group. The Fortenza and Helix Vibrance combination includes four fungicides and two insecticides. So, in addition to the control of flea beetles and cutworms, this solution also controls a wide range of soil-borne diseases, including Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Fusarium.

Cutworms tend to be nocturnal so, up until now, the most effective management solution was to spray an insecticide at night to coincide with the highest incidence of feeding. Syngenta says by managing cutworms early with Fortenza, a grower can minimize the need to spray and improve efficiency during a very busy time of the year.

Fortenza is only available for purchase on pre-treated canola seed. Growers should speak with their seed provider about Fortenza treated canola seed.



 Aug. 5, 2014 - Canola is the main crop for honey production in Western Canada. Wherever you find canola, you’ll find honeybees.

“Bees tend to do very well on canola. The crop has profuse blooms and nutritious pollen high in protein as well as fat, and with all the amino acids bees need to complete their lifecycle,” says Shelley Hoover, an apiculture research scientist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. “Bees can produce quite a good honey crop off of canola.”

Hoover, along with beekeepers and canola growers, are featured in a new series of videos produced by the Canola Council of Canada (CCC) with cooperation from the Canadian Honey Council. The videos are posted at One video, titled “Canola and Bees — A Sweet Relationship,” describes how beekeepers and canola producers benefit from each other.
“Honey producers are not the only ones who gain from this relationship. Canola growers also know it is in their own best interest to protect bees,” says Gregory Sekulic, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada (CCC). “Bees and other pollinators are needed for production of quality hybrid seed – a vital component of the industry. And research suggests that pollination by bees may also encourage higher canola yields by increasing the number of pods per plant and seeds per pod.”

Statistics Canada data show that the number of honeybees in Canada has reached near-record levels in the past decade, with more than 700,000 colonies Canada-wide in 2012, up from 600,000 in 2000. More than 70 percent of these colonies are in Western Canada.

 Lorne Peters and his brother run Peters Honey Farm near Kleefeld, Manitoba. “Our bees have a few crop options in our area, but canola is the most common flowering crop and the bees seem to do well on canola,” Peters says.“Our honey season is intense — it only lasts as long as the crops are flowering,” he says. “We have long-standing relationships with many of the canola growers around us, and we try to work with them as close as possible so we can keep our bees safe during this short flowering period and so they can protect their crops when necessary.”

Canola growers helping bees

The CCC promotes the following insect management practices that take bee health into account:

1. Avoid spraying insecticide on flowering canola. Bees are actively working the crop when it is flowering, and canola growers are urged to avoid spraying for insects during this time.

2. Use economic thresholds when making control decisions. This ensures that growers only spray when it is economically beneficial to do so. A few pests in the crop is normal, and control should never be enacted unless the damage exceeds the cost of control.

3. Use an insecticide that is registered for the targeted pest, and choose the product with lower toxicity to beneficial insects.

4. Take measures to minimize drift. Constantly monitor wind speed and direction, leave a buffer area (50 metres) from beehives, and use drift reducing nozzles.

5. If economically necessary to apply products to flowering canola, apply after 8:00 p.m. until dusk or at night when bees aren’t actively foraging. Stop spraying in the morning when temperatures approach 15 C.

6. Maintain a dialogue with beekeepers. Knowing where beehives are, when safe times to apply products occur, and who will be there can go a long way to mitigating any potential problems.  The beekeeper may be able to move bees during spraying, or cover the hives.

“We also encourage beekeepers to report pesticide damage when it happens,” Sekulic says. “With an accurate log of pesticide damage — including the timing, location and product used — beekeepers, the canola industry and regulatory bodies have accurate data to use when making decisions.”


May 5, 2014, Guelph, Ont. – The University of Guelph has received a $750,000 donation to help support and preserve pollinator health through sustainable pest management.

The donation from Bayer CropScience Inc. was made to the BetterPlanet Project, the university’s fundraising campaign for teaching and research in food, environment, health and communities, according to a press release from the university.

The university says the gift will support the creation of the Centre for Beneficial Insect Health through the school of environmental sciences. The centre would emphasize sustainable pest management in agriculture, including work on field and horticultural crops, greenhouse production, insecticide resistance and biological insect control.

The centre will promote the development of effective and progressive pest management strategies while protecting pollinators. The centre will also promote outreach and awareness among farmers, industry and the general public.

May 3, 2013, New Brunswick – New Brunswick farmers turned in more than 13,000 kilograms of unwanted or obsolete pesticides for safe disposal last year as part of CleanFARMS.

The program took place at 12 ag retail locations across the province through the end of October and into early November where farmers brought in 13,370 kilograms of product.

Since the program began in 1998, CleanFARMS reports that New Brunswick farmers have turned in more than 30,860 kilograms of obsolete or unwanted pesticides for safe disposal.

After collection, the pesticides are taken to a licensed waste management facility where they are safely disposed through high-temperature incineration.

The obsolete pesticide collection program generally comes to the province every three years and is free for farmers to participate in. In between collections, farmers are asked to safely store their unwanted pesticides until they can properly dispose of them through the obsolete pesticide collection program.
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