Pulse School: Understanding maximum residue limits

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Deciding when and how much pesticide to spray on a pulse crop can have a significant impact on the yield come harvest, but aside from yield, growers need to consider and be aware of maximum residue limits, or MRLs, for each specific crop to ensure they don’t fall outside of the acceptable range.

On this episode of theĀ Pulse School, Sherrilyn Phelps, director of research and development for Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, explains what exactly MRLs are, why they’re important, and what factors contribute to higher or lower concentrations.

MRLs are a regulated maximum amount of pesticide residue allowed detected on the final harvested crop. Canada has laid out its own limits; however, since the vast majority of pulse crops are exported, so it’s also vitally important to be aware of and consult MRLs for countries importing Canadian crops.

Phelps says MRLs more or less fall into the marketing side of operations and although they can make or break the acceptance of a crop, simply following pesticide labels will more than likely make sure growers are falling within the acceptable levels.

Best practices aside, less than ideal conditions may make it tempting to go off-label, however, in world of MRLs, that could push your crop outside of the identified maximums.

“Where we start to see residues probably creeping up is if growers are using higher rates or they’re going later than what the label states. So those are kind of two situations where a residue could be somewhat higher than what we’re guaranteeing. And then obviously, if it’s off label, that’s the concern for sure,” says Phelps.

MRLs can be traced back to the samples that are provided to the elevators, yet Phelps says what is most important, from a buyer’s standpoint, is making sure the shipments going out are within the Canadian, or export country’s, standards.

To learn more about pulses and to view all of RealAgriculture’s Pulse School episodes, click here.

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