With farm chemical supply issues a growing concern, more farmers are buying and storing herbicides this fall for use next spring. But certain storage precautions are necessary over the winter months to keep products safe and to help ensure they don’t degrade and become less effective.
For example, glyphosate and glufosinate, can be stored no colder than -12 degrees Celsius (10 degrees F) and 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees F), respectively. Check minimum/maximum storage temperatures for pesticides by reading the PMRA product label and Safety Data Sheet.
The first step is to designate one area or a storage cabinet on the farm to store pesticides. They need to be in a dry and cool place away from sunlight and all other products, especially hazardous chemicals. Access to the area should be locked, especially if there are children around, with posted signs that alert others of pesticide storage.
“Access to the area should be locked, especially if there are children around, with posted signs that alert others of pesticide storage.”
Whether this storage area needs to be climate controlled depends on the variety of products stored and their storage temperatures. Use the PMRA product labels and Safety Data Sheets as gospel to gain product safety, storage and usage details. You’ll also learn what to do in case of spills and what absorption materials to have on hand, along with appropriate fire extinguishers.
When placing products in storage, be sure to keep liquids on the lowest shelves so a leak won’t contaminate dry products. Also, make it a regular habit every few weeks to check your storage areas for leaks, damaged labels or other issues with containers.
Another practice that is recommended is keeping an inventory of your pesticides. It could be done on a spreadsheet or even as simple as handwritten on paper, then revised as inventory changes. The goal is to track what chemicals you have on hand at a given time, which helps first responders if there’s a potential emergency.
It’s also a good idea to track the ages of chemicals you have in storage. Age of product inventory, especially given Canadian winter temperature extremes, can challenge formulations. A good rule of thumb: if you haven't used a product in the last two years, it's time to dispose of it properly. This helps with inventory management by preventing a large accumulation of unused old chemicals. Provincial rules may differ regarding pesticide handling. Check with your provincial depart of agriculture for specifics to ensure your pesticide storage complies. CleanFarms runs an obsolete pesticide collection program from time to time. Check the CleanFarms website about programs in your local area.
If you have liquid pesticides that freeze or are subjected to temperatures below the recommended range, they may be less effective. Some products can be thawed naturally at room temperature, but you should never use heat or flame. Once the formulation thaws, roll and shake the container to resuspend the components. If crystals are still present after thawing, you should not use the pesticide.
If you have questions about product efficacy following winter, check with your local Territory Manager or retailer.