1985 - Volume #9, Issue #5, Page #14[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Canadian farmers launch anti-Treflan campaignNearly 100 disgruntled Canadian farmers have banded together in an effort to obtain compensation from Elanco Products Cbmpany for yield damage they say was caused by granular Treflan in wheat and barley crops.
The group of farmers, headed by Darcy Herman of Hafford, Sask., contends that granular Treflan ù which they apply to rapeseed (canola) crops ù doesn't break down fast enough and that the residue is killing wheat crops the following season.
"My wheat yields are as low as 5 to 7 bu. per acre. Normal yields are 25 to 30 bu. In some areas, the crop's so thin you can hardly see it," Herman told FARM SHOW. "There are too many farmers with the same problem. It can't be the way we're using the chemical. There's got to be something wrong with the product."
The farmers have placed advertisements in newspapers and magazines in an attempt to locate others with similar problems in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They've also hired a crop consultant to help them scientifically document the extent of the problem. Eighteen of the farmers have taken soil samples and yield tests as recommended by the consultant in order to present the information to Elanco. If they fail to convince the company that they're entitled to compensation, they say they'll file a lawsuit and use the information as evidence in court.
Herman admits that not every farmer who uses the chemical has had problems. "It seems to be worse in light, sandy soils. We think it may have something to do with the calcium carbonate in the limestone carrier which Elanco started using in the chemical about three years ago. Last year granular Treflan was widely used in this area in rapeseed fields. It is supposed to carry over one year to control wild oats in wheat the following season but this year it killed the crop."
Herman notes that with 400 acres of affected wheat he is one of the worst off in the group. "We don't want to go to court to settle this because these cases often drag on for years. We've been meeting with Elanco officials and they're conducting their own tests. We're hopeful an agreement can be reached," he says, adding that so far as he knows there has been no trouble with liquid Treflan.
At least one American farmer has already made plans to file suit against Elanco. John Wold, who farms near Laurel, Montana, says he lost at least $40,000 to $50,000 in winter wheat yields this year.
"I've used granular Treflan for 6 years and never had a problem until last year, when the company came out with a new version, called 5GL, that had a limestone carrier base. When we applied it to winter wheat last year, we got absolutely no control. I contacted the company and they refunded my money with no questions asked. This year the company introduced a new version of the chemical called TR10 which eliminated the limestone base and doubled the strength of the chemical. Our yields dropped to just 10 bu. per acre where we normally got at least 32 bu. Our neighbors, who didn't use the chemical, had normal yields," says Wold, noting that at least 400 acres were affected.
Working together with soil scientist Pete Fay at Montana State University, Bozeman, Wold took. soil samples that show a tremendously high concentration of Treflan in the soil. "Our best guess is that release of the chemical we applied last year was delayed until this year and, together with the increased potency of this year's chemical, killed the crop," says Wold.
He says he doesn't know of any other farmers in his area who use granular Treflan because he is one of only a few farmers in the area who practices continuous cropping. "If I hadn't used the chemical with great success for several years, I would have thought I'd done something wrong. The company won't admit we've got a problem and has tried to convince me I applied it incorrectly."
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