Stop the Spread!

Its time for growers to choose Certified option to slow spread of weeds

Unfortunately for Ontario growers, herbicide resistance has become a frequently discussed topic.  We now see glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane and giant ragweed across much of Southern Ontario, causing growers to move to alternative systems to manage the weeds.  These biotypes are occurring in densities large enough to create substantial yield losses in many parts of the province.  Foxtail, vetch and cleaver have also become problem weeds in the province.  These are sometimes just as hard to control in the wheat crop as the herbicide resistant ones.

“I think glyphosate-resistant weeds are a manageable problem,” says Dr. Peter Sikkema, professor of field crop weed management at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown Campus. “We have enough research to show that we can manage it, but it’s going to cost farmers a lot of money, every year going forward.”

When this all started, it was a localized problem; now it is everybody’s problem. Glyphosate-resistant Canada fleabane, for instance, has moved 800 km from its point of origin in Essex County in 2010 to the Ontario-Quebec border in 2015.  Weeds move in many ways, including pollen movement and grain movement.  But one of the most overlooked methods is replanting farm-saved seed that has traceable amounts of weed seeds.

As wheat producers as well as environmental stewards, we must consider the movement, cleaning and conditioning of the seed we are growing.  Although many people will say “I already get my seed cleaned”, but the reality is that there are not the same stringent regulations on cleaning seed that there are in producing certified wheat seed.  Many cleaners will simply push the wheat over a small screen cleaner and take out part of the problem without eliminating the entire issue.  There are no CFIA regulations to keep the industry in check.

Certified seed holds just the ticket! Certified seed facilities take pride in the cleanliness of the product that leaves their facility.

“There have been many instances when C&M Seeds has recleaned or rejected a seed lot to ensure that it meets very high uniformity and visual inspection standards” says Jeff Williamson, Seed Production Manager with C&M Seeds.

As an example, giant ragweed is a primary noxious weed with zero tolerance in the certified seed system.  Farmers and the seed trade can lower the incidence of herbicide-resistant weeds by simply choosing the certified choice –while also experiencing the benefits of new genetics, guaranteed germination and lower herbicide usage.  These reasons alone could make the investment in certified seed the less expensive option in the long run.

This spring and fall, take a look at the hidden savings of choosing certified seed and get what you want – not what you don’t want!

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