Hi. I love your website. I also have a blog spot and I have written about the myths and hype surrounding organic farming and all the fear-fueled disinformation about glyphosate that litters pro-organic web sites. One of the biggest myths I have encountered is how farmers are said to spray their crops with round-up just before harvest in order to speed up field drying. I grew up in farm country in upstate New York, I have owned a farm where I leased many acres to a grain farmer and I now live in Kansas amid farms a plenty. I have never witnessed a farmer spray his crop with round-up or anything else prior to harvest in the manner claimed by these activists.
Could you share your experiences on this issue? Specifically, have you or have you ever seen a farmer spray their crops with any chemical, be it glyphosate or anything else, just prior to harvest in order to speed up the field drying process?
Thanks for your time.
Thanks for the question! I appreciate that you’re also blogging and contributing to the discussion!
So, what’s this business about Round-Up, or its active ingredient glyphosate, being used to kill a crop just prior to harvest? Last November, this very issue was making the rounds on social media based on a fairly inflammatory blog post. Unfortunately, the effect of that post seems to still exist and this question gets asked from time to time.
In the original post, the blogger claimed that she had happened upon the secret of why the United State’s has a “toxic” supply of wheat. While she was originally convinced that wheat had been genetically modified, she later learned that farmers allegedly douse their wheat crops with Round-Up right before harvest. She attributed this practice to somehow increasing yields, but also contaminating our wheat supply with copious amounts of Round-Up. Thus, she thought she solved the enigma of why so our wheat supply is supposedly “toxic.”
Obviously, she got a few things wrong.
There is nothing “toxic” about the United State’s wheat crop, farmers are not dousing their crops with any type of chemical (hey, that stuff is expensive!), and most U.S. farmers are not employing Round-Up for this purpose. In fact, this particular use for Round-Up is so uncommon that, when her article was first published and caused such a ruckus, many farmers were quick to say that no one actually does this and she was mistaken.
Turns out, there are actually situations and circumstances which necessitate the use of Round-Up as a desiccant. Now, personally, this is not a practice I’m familiar with, because this is not something we do on our farm, nor do I know of anyone in our area that employs a desiccant. And I’m not surprised that you aren’t familiar with it either, coming from New York or Kansas. That’s because this practice is only necessary under certain circumstances.
Thankfully, my friend Sarah at Nurse Loves Farmer is familiar with using Round-Up for this way on her family farm in Alberta, Canada. Among other reasons, the Round-Up is used as a substitute for swathing the wheat, which reduces the amount of time it takes for the wheat to dry down. Unfortunately, they only have a growing season with 100 frost-free days, which doesn’t allow them to leave the crop in the field until it is completely dry. Winter weather is always a concern. Also, it evens out green spots in the field and allows them to control for weeds, which would add to the moisture content. In addition, it gives them an opportunity to get control over annual and perennial weeds. Of course, the application of the Round-Up is done in such a way to minimize contact with the grain and must be done a certain number of days prior to harvest as an extra precaution.
I suggest checking out and reading her entire article, linked here, for more information and an explanation of some of the specific labeled directions. Sarah also included a bunch of links at the end of her article that also discuss this process.
Thanks so much for your question and I hope that answers it!
Sarah Schultz says
Thanks for linking to my site. Chris, my husband and I are always happy to chat. If you’re on Twitter we are @NurseLovesFarmr and @WheatlanderJay. It’s also important to note that glyphosate is registered for 14 different crops (not just wheat) to spray before harvest. There are also many different products that are true desiccants (made specifically to try down the crop for harvest).