Desiccant options continue to decline for dry beans

Use of chemicals on dry beans increasingly depends on requirements of end users

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Ontario dry bean growers continue to search for alternatives to use as a desiccant after buyers rejected the further use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest burndown in 2019.

Limitations on other chemicals are beginning to follow.

Why it matters: Farmers need to be vigilant on weed control with dry and edible beans as desiccant restrictions are creating limitations for pre-harvest options.

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“Sometimes it’s not just ‘is it legal to be used’, because that goes back to the Canadian label. It’s more what the dealer that you grow for allows,” says Mike Donnelll-Vanderloo, chair of the Ontario Bean Growers board of directors.

Maximum residue limits (MRLs) are causing further product restrictions.

Liberty cannot be used as a desiccant and glufosinate, found in Ignite, cannot be used on any beans other than Otebos.

“It’s not that (Ontario growers) are at a competitive disadvantage. Any other countries that are going into these markets are also asked to abide by these (same) rules.”

Changes to MRLs require careful product choices.

Donnelly-Vanderloo says that the Ontario Bean Growers are organizing a meeting with private and public researchers, as well as product dealers, to discuss which products are available for use.

“We’re finding that we’ve had some researchers that weren’t quite sure and actually a little surprised with some of the changes in which desiccants are allowed and which aren’t.”

There are four common pre-harvest treatments being used by Ontario bean growers that meet MRL specifications and meet food producer regulations.

  • Eragon and Merge for most beans grown in Ontario and for beans destined for seed production.
  • Eragon, Merge and Glyphosate are allowed on azuki beans only.
  • Ignite is permitted on otebo beans only and Reglone, with a non-ionic surfactant, can only be used on beans for seed production.

The roundtable should also help to “fine tune” use of desiccants, says Donnelly-Vanderloo.

“We did lose Roundup and now we are really counting on them and some of them are weaker on certain weed species than others. This is where we are really counting on the chemical companies to give us good advice.”

Most of Ontario’s edible beans are grown under contract so growers should ask their dealers which products are allowed for the particular target market.

“It’s not one size fits all here. It’s a moving target, it does change year by year. It also varies by market class. It’s a very complex issue. It’s not nothing that can’t be overcome, but at the same token, (growers need to) be aware of what current regulations are and keep in touch with their dealer,” says Donnelly-Vanderloo.

He says growers need to rely less on desiccant and focus more on early-season weed control.

“We don’t have the luxury of having really good support from our desiccants anymore and harvest aids. There’s no substitute, especially now, for getting in that field early, scouting and spraying when the weeds are small.”

Major buyers of beans in Ontario didn’t want to be interviewed for this article, citing potential foreign market backlash.

About the author

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Jennifer Glenney

Jennifer is a farm reporter who lives in Cayuga, Ontario.

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