Canada exports over 20,000,000 metric tonnes of wheat, oats and barley annually, including:
- 85% of Canadian wheat
- Approximately 50% of Canadian oats, with nearly 90% going to the United States
- Between 25% and 30% of Canadian barley (both in bulk and as value added products)
As a farmer, you know that producing quality cereals starts with planting the best seed and managing it carefully.
Domestic processors and importers are increasingly inspecting their shipments, as they have every right to. They test arriving shipments to ensure that contract specifications are being met. Lots of grain that contain things like wheats of other classes, undeclared barley varieties, excessive pesticide residues or mycotoxins such as Ochratoxin (OTA) and Deoxynivalenol (DON), can derail domestic and export sales and damage Canada’s reputation. Blocked shipments cause millions of dollars in losses and place future business at risk.
So what can you do to help protect Canada’s cereals business? Follow these guidelines closely to help us deliver on our commitments as an industry.
Five Simple Steps to Keep Your Cereals Ready for Market
1. Consider Market Acceptance
In some cases, a crop protection product is registered in Canada without a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) established in our major export markets. This means that cereal crops are treated with certain pesticides that may not be accepted in some markets. Best practices are:
- Consult your crop input provider and your grain buyer to know your requirements before using products.
- Ensure that the grain will meet all the requirements at its final destination.
- Always follow the label.
2. Use Registered Pesticides Only
Only apply pesticides registered for use on your crop type, and always follow the rates and timing listed on the label. Applying product too early or too close to harvest can reduce yield or crop quality and leave higher than acceptable pesticide residues.
3. Grow Disease-tolerant Varieties And Use Practices That Reduce Infection
Fusarium head blight (FHB) has become increasingly prevalent in Western Canada, causing yield and quality losses. Tolerances are set very low because of the presence of harmful mycotoxins (DON or Deoxynivalenol). Disease-tolerant varieties do not eliminate the problem, so it’s important to use multiple agronomic practices to reduce infection.
Disease Management Practices
FHB infection is initiated by spores released from infected residue or stubble. Follow these practices to keep FHB from impacting yield and profitability, and to reduce the presence of FHB on seed:
- Scout fields regularly for disease symptoms to determine the effectiveness of your management plan.
- Allow time for crop residue to decompose. Rotate away from cereal crops for at least one to two years, and avoid planting adjacent to fields that were recently affected by FHB.
- Plant clean seed (preferably certified) that has documented quality.
- There are currently no varieties with true resistance to FHB. However, cereals vary in their susceptibility. Some wheat varieties have improved resistance. Barley is less susceptible than wheat, and oats are the least susceptible to FHB. However, end-use processors may set lower tolerance for fusarium-damaged kernels.
- Apply fungicide when there is an elevated risk of FHB (e.g. wet conditions during flowering and head emergence).
- Control grassy weeds and straw residues that may harbour FHB between cereal crop years.
4. Store Cereals Properly
Countries have strict regulations for residues in food and feed. Proper cereal storage will help prevent downgrading of your grain due to cross contamination, chemical residues, or the formation of harmful mycotoxins such as Ochratoxin A (OTA), a potent toxin that forms in high moisture.
- Make sure your storage bins are free of treated seed (which contains pesticides) and animal protein like blood meal and bone meal.
- Clean bins thoroughly prior to storing grain using only approved bin treatments (e.g. diatomaceous earth).
- Ensure that crops are harvested or dried to a level safe for storage.
- Store grain in cool, dry and well-ventilated bins to avoid spoilage and insect issues, and check their condition regularly.
5. Deliver What You Declare
When you sign a Declaration of Eligibility affidavit at the elevator, you are making a legal assertion that your grain is of the class you’ve declared. It also states whether your grain may contain residues of any crop input product specified in the Declaration. It’s important to be clear that this declaration is a legally binding document. Any intentional or unintentional mistake traced back through retained samples will expose individuals and their farms to significant liability. We raise these concerns to ensure that individual producers and the reputation of Canadian domestic and export sales are each protected and preserved.
For more information on how to keep your cereals clean, call 1-204-942-2166.