Poisonous weeds found in Alta. canola

Devil’s trumpet has similar seed size to canola; found in three fields

A prohibited, noxious weed, extremely poisonous to livestock and humans was discovered in three Alberta canola fields.

Devil’s Trumpet, also known as Jimsonweed was found in canola fields in Westlock, Barrhead and Leduc Counties Aug. 27 and 28 while farmers were swathing canola.

With a similar seed size as canola, provincial weed specialist Nicole Kimmel said they are concerned about the possibility of canola being contaminated with the weed that induces hallucinations and is extremely poisonous.

“Our concern is most canola is used for canola oil and this is a poisonous plant. We are very concerned about human consumption,” she said.

Kimmel suspects farmers will find more cases of the towering weed in their canola as swathing progresses.

Devil’s Trumpet is about one and a half metres tall and towers over the canola. It has thick red-to-purple stems, trumpet-like flowers that are pinkish, purplish and whitish, and leaves with irregular toothed margins.

The seed pods are like spiked cucumbers and may contain 600 to 700 seeds per capsule. The capsule explodes once it matures, expelling its seeds.

Devil’s Trumpet is a prohibited noxious weed seed under the federal weed seed order and is not allowed into Canada.

Kimmel believes the weed may have come into the field through a contaminated seed lot.

“That would be my suspicion,” she said.

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Blaine Woycheshin, manager of oilseed crops with Invigor Seed said they hadn’t heard about the weed in their canola, but will contact the farmers and Kimmel for more information.

“We will be looking into it,” said Woycheshin, of Calgary.

Kimmel is working with Canadian Food Inspection Agency staff to develop a plan to destroy the plant. Open burning of the plant may create poisonous toxins in the air.

Jacolyn Tigert, agricultural fieldman with Westlock County said a farmer found about 10 plants in his canola field while swathing.

“This weed is a serious weed. All parts of the plant are poisonous. It can cause death to livestock and humans at a low percentage,” she said.

Marilyn Flock, agricultural fieldman with the County of Barrhead said a farmer found about two dozen plants in his canola field while swathing.

“It looks like a tree out in the middle of the crop,” said Flock.

With 610,000 acres of farmland, county officials are relying of farmers to be on the lookout for the weed.

In a news release to local farmers, Westlock County staff warned the plant could end up in livestock feed if the canola straw is baled for feed and the plant is not pulled before swathing.

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Aaron Van Beers, agricultural foreman with Leduc County said the weed has been found in one field in Leduc County. The farmer noticed two plants growing while swathing his Invigor L135C canola.

“It does stick out fairly well,” he said.

The farmer pulled the two plants and brought it into the Leduc County office for identification.

“It is a fairly distinct plant, especially with canola plants that are shorter this year.”

“If this is not an isolated incident it could be a fairly big concern. It is a fairly toxic plant,” said Van Beers.

Leduc County staff is asking farmers who find the plant to pull it and bag it and take it to the county office until provincial weed specialists and CFIA officials come up with a plan to destroy the weed.

Van Beers believes the weed seeds were likely in one seed lot. The Leduc county farmer will watch for more plants as he swaths.

Dan Orchard, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada said they weren’t aware of the weed, but have since notified other canola staff about the weed.

“We will wait until more information from the counties before getting too excited,” he said.

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Contact mary.macarthur@producer.com

  • Confused Farmer

    Really ?? farmers pull the weeds out , you can’t be serious ??? Bayer needs to get out there , burn the field , rouge any volunteers that come for the next 5 years . Then Bayer (if it was their seed) needs to be charged for bringing banned weeds into Canada . This thinking that it is a farmers problem has got to stop . This poor farmer paid $70 per bushel for this problem.

    • Corey Martin

      try more like $600 plus per bushel for seed canola. It is about $70 per acre, if you are lucky!

      • confused farmer

        that what I meant to say, lol.

  • April Reeves

    I knew this was inevitable. So these crops are still going to commodity markets to be processed into human foods. Those seeds have the potential to enter our food system. And Bayer is off the hook? This is not the planet I want to live on. I agree with Confused Farmer. But maybe the farmers will STOP using these products.

  • Gwen Dorchak

    Oh My – These are over the top / out to lunch / fear mongering remarks elicited by the Western Producer article on “Devil’s Trumpet” (are you talking about Datura? – note to Aaron Van Beers: providing the Latin identification is more accurate) I am a horticulturalist, avid gardener AND canola farmer in southern Alberta AND I have grown Datura in my garden for many years. Seed catalogues and garden centers most often refer to Datura as Angel’s Trumpet because of their “heavenly” fragrance (not nearly as evil sounding as the common name used in this article). Datura is a gorgeous ANNUAL plant here in zone 3A (meaning it grows from seed each year, it isn’t hardy enough to live through our winter) These large sturdy plants and huge white trumpet shaped flowers never fail to elicit comment and compliments. Occasionally, like this year, a couple of seedlings will come up near the spot where it was grown the previous growing season, but I have never had plants come up anywhere else around the yard and certainly not in our fields – the seed is not spread by wind (like thistle and milkweed…) but COULD possibly be carried by birds. My daughter recently qualified as a seed analyst and seed crop inspector – this summer she pointed out that that sure looked like “Jimsonweed” growing in my flowerbed – and “Jimsonweed” is a prohibited noxious weed – News to me! There are several species of Datura, stramonium, meteloides,inoxia… perhaps some species ARE more capable of escaping cultivation in gardens and growing in field situations (this seems to be the case near Leduc). Datura is a member to the Solanaceae family – cousin to tomato, pepper, and eggplant. The seeds are very similar in shape and size to that of the tomato which does not resemble any canola seed I have ever grown or seen – would it REALLY pose a problem at the seed cleaning plant? Why so quick to point your finger at Bayer as the source of those Datura seeds when they could very well have escaped from someone’s garden? Perhaps the horticultural industry needs to be informed of this “devilish” weed’s threat to our agricultural industry! During the 30 + years that I have been gardening I’ve grown some plants with definite aggressive, “weedy” tendencies – they get pulled out -a very effective technique. Burn the field? REALLY? Educate yourselves before jumping to such extreme assumptions about the danger “Devil’s Trumpet” poses to our canola industry! Do we really need consumers to believe that canola is an unsafe food when, in fact, it is one of the healthiest oils you can eat?

  • Debb

    that plant can be purchased as angels trumpet in Greenhouses through out alberta, as thats where I got mine, If this is banned in Canada then im not sure why it is so easy to get.

  • Julie

    In the process of producing canola oil and meal, any and all weed seeds are removed or destroyed by heat. There is literally zero chance that anything harmful that arrives to the facility in the canola could be present in the finished product.

    • Sheryl McCumsey

      That process you are talking about is exactly what makes the oil unhealthy for consumption. Not to mention the neonics (neurotoxins) systemically within most canola….which kills all insects including bees and even birds. AND THEN YOU EAT IT.

    • excusemebut2

      … The seeds are similar in size to canola, how would you remove them? Please cite where the poisons would be removed by heat …

  • farmin82

    Angels Trumpet and Devils Trumpet are related but are not the same plant.

  • confused farmer

    what about nexera? don’t think they use heat there , what about the volunteers that grow in the grain the next year ? whoever caused this problem better fix it , quick

  • ed

    The real cost of canola seed is about one dollar (that’s $1) per acre or $150 per quarter section. That’s about a little less than $1000 per average size farm in Western Canada. The big companies that are causing all these problems see fit to graft off another near $69,000 per average size farm (or nearly $2 billion) and the farmers are content to let it happen. In fact rather than pay down debt with some net profits, the farmer will borrow additional moneys to facilitate the fleecing. Not knowing what causes what the farmer may even defend this crippling debt addition/supply glut adding and raw commodity price suppression practices that are preached by the big companies and their agrarian tag teams. They didn’t show up here for your benefit. The moneys theirs, the problem is yours. Act accordingly in the future based on that. It is not going to change if you don’t.

  • T leduc area

    Devils trumpet is sold locally in Alberta as ” Datura ” in many bedding plant garden centers. We have had the plant for over 10 years by the side of the house. We have noticed 1 six foot plant in the field while swathing ( canola ) and 1 more in the back of our yard. Assuming birds have moved the seed. The reporter did a very good job of scaring farmers, rather than presenting facts and research. Yes, we will get rid of the plants, we all understand if there are hundreds of seeds per pod that there can be an infestation if the plant continues to grow ! Scare and blame, good tabloid article.

  • Vivianne Todd

    What is the source saying this plant is prohibited noxious?

  • Sheryl McCumsey

    Oh don’t worry….I am sure we have a chemical for this in the works people..farmer and consumer are not important. Only the seed and chemical companies.