University of Idaho
ABERDEEN, Idaho — A partnership between the federal government and land-grant universities that conducts pesticide research for minor crops plans to host trials in Idaho, Oregon and Washington evaluating a herbicide for use in quinoa.
Rhonda Hirnyck, University of Idaho pesticide coordinator, said quinoa trials of Syngenta’s herbicide Dual Magnum are scheduled for next summer in Southern Idaho.
No herbicides are currently labeled for quinoa, but the gluten-free grain is gaining a foothold in Eastern Idaho, where a buyer contracted for production from about 1,600 acres this season and hopes to triple his acreage for next season.
The IR-4 program, based at Rutgers University, aims to provide tools for farmers raising specialty crops not produced in a sufficient volume to entice research investment by chemical companies, which bear research costs for major crop labels. The program funds replicated field trials, regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, to generate data on pesticide residue in crops resulting from varying application timing and rates.
EPA uses the residue-level data to set maximum tolerances, based on human health and safety. Pesticide companies can then create a product label based on those tolerances.
“Not every study you want done gets done,” Hirnyck said. “We feel fortunate this got recognized as a need nationally and got prioritized.”
Hirnyck said Syngenta has expressed a willingness to label the herbicide for use in quinoa once EPA sets a tolerance — a process she said will take at least three years to complete.
Hirnyck said her program conducts 12 to 15 studies per year, and new labels “almost always” result from the reviews. Recently, she said new labels were approved for the forage crop teff, based on reviews originating in Idaho.
Hirnyck anticipates any quinoa label for Dual Magnum — the trade name for the chemical metolachlor — will ultimately apply only to the Northwest.
Dual Magnum emerged as a viable option for controlling weeds, both pre-emergence and post-emergence, in quinoa in trials conducted both by Oregon State University and at University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research and Extension Center. UI weed scientist Pam Hutchinson said Dual Magnum doesn’t work as well on common lambsquarters, a weed closely related to quinoa.
She’s tested several pesticides labeled for other crops for efficacy on quinoa during the past three seasons in Aberdeen. Hutchinson said Dual Magnum is currently labeled for crops such as corn and potatoes. It’s absorbed into roots or shoots of emerging plants and inhibits synthesis of fatty acids, but isn’t translocated throughout the plant.
Other promising chemicals that may be evaluated for residue levels in the future include the potato herbicides Outlook and Sonalan; Devronil, which is used in strawberries; and the old sugar beet herbicides Nortron, Betamix and Roneet.
Hutchinson said Devronil shows promise against lambsquarters without affecting quinoa.