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2-Plants: Canadian farmers experience tolerance problems in RRcanola

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TITLE:  Canola tolerance problem may be linked to soil
SOURCE: The Western Producer, Canada, by Sean Pratt
DATE:   Jul 17, 2003

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Canola tolerance problem may be linked to soil

An agronomic problem with a variety of Roundup Ready canola continues to
mystify its distributor.

Brett Young Seeds is reassessing approximately 100 fields to determine
why its Libred 799 variety of herbicide-tolerant canola suffered damage
after being sprayed by Roundup.

Most of those fields are located in northeastern Alberta where soil
conditions appear to be triggering a problem with the seed, said Harley
House, Brett Young's western Canadian marketing manager.

That's about all that is confirmed since the intensive investigation was
launched in late June.

"The frustrating part is that not an awful lot of new news is coming to
light," said House.

The damage is quite localized. Farmers in northeastern Alberta seem to be
having problems with Libred 799 while many other prairie producers are not.

Brett Young officials have visited approximately 100 fields, representing
20,000 acres of land where crop damage has been reported. House said
three-quarters of those cases have been deemed legitimate problem sites,
while the remainder are experiencing some other type of agronomic difficulty.

The land in question represents less than one percent of the 250,000
acres of Libred 799 estimated to have been seeded this year. Most of the
crop damage has been reported by farmers in a triangular region
delineated by the communities of Edmonton, Camrose and St. Paul.

One producer, who asked to remain anonymous, said the problem is clearly
a tolerance issue because he has a different variety of Roundup Ready
canola that is healthy and growing adjacent to a devastated field of
Libred 799.

House thinks he knows which farmer that is and claims the damage in that
case is due to Group 2 herbicide residue. The farmer told Brett Young
officials he sprayed Pursuit on that field a few years earlier.

With two years of dry weather, the herbicide residue was probably still
in the soil of the field where the Libred crop was planted, said House.
That would explain why the Libred crop died and the other Roundup Ready
variety is thriving.

But House admits there are cases where the damage can't be blamed on
herbicide residues or any other obvious causes. And that has him perplexed.

What's really stumping Brett-Young officials is that the Libred 799 seed
met all of Monsanto's requirements and was triple-checked for its
tolerance ability last winter.

One emerging hypothesis is that the Lembke plant breeding system used by
Brett-Young Seeds is having a detrimental reaction on the canola when
combined with certain soil conditions.

"It has definitely crossed our minds that that could be a factor."

But House emphasized it's premature to say what the exact source of the
problem is. That's why the company is hiring an outside contractor to
help revisit the 100 affected fields to search for a definitive answer.

House hopes that process will be complete by July 25. He said the company
is not even contemplating the idea of compensating farmers until those
farm visits are done and the results analyzed.



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