How are pesticides registered in Canada?

Cary Gates at Canada Blooms 2014. Cary is Pest Management Director for Flowers Canada Growers.

Ever wonder what, exactly, is involved in getting a pesticide registered for use in Canadian greenhouses – and why it seems to take so long?  This guest post by Cary Gates (Director of Pest Management, Flowers Canada) lifts the curtain on the process.

How are Pesticides Typically Registered?

When I speak to growers, one of the things I’m told they need most are new biological and/or conventional pesticide registrations.  But getting a new registration is no simple task. 

Brand new active ingredients take a significant amount of time and financial investment from pesticide manufacturers to bring to market.  And, often the return on this investment is not realized immediately, due to the relatively small market ornamental growers represent. 

To address this, grower associations like Flowers Canada work with registrants to submit a User Requested Minor Use Registration (URMUR) request to the Province. This lowers the cost of registration for pesticide manufacturers.  However, typical registration timelines still remain around 3-4 years

If a product is already registered on a different crop in Canada, we can pursue a label expansion (known as a User Requested Minor Use Label Expansion, or URMULE) .  URMULES typically take 9 months to process.  URMULES can take considerably more time if additional registration data is required (e.g. occupational exposure data). Some label expansions have taken multiple years to process.  

Flowers Canada submits approximately 8- 10 label expansion requests annually, which are often the result of grower requests.  A large percentage of these are approved.

If you would like to know more about the progress of any new registrations, feel free to contact me.

The Role of Canada’s Pest Management Centre (PMC):

Outside of label expansions and registrant submitted registrations, many pesticides are made available to floriculture farmers through Agriculture Canada’s Pest Management Centre.

The PMC is a division of AAFC that works to assist growers’ access new pest management tools (both biological and conventional pesticides). 

Delegates at the 2014 PMC's Priority Setting Meeting. Photo from
Delegates at the 2014 PMC Priority Setting Meeting. Photo from

The PMC hosts an annual priority-setting meeting where growers, researchers, industry grower associations and extension staff prioritize pests and diseases alongside researchers, pest management companies and regulators.  Sarah Jandricic and I will be attending this meeting in March. (For more information about the goals and format of the meeting, click here).

Each year, the group isolates only 10 priority insect-pest problems, 10 priority pathology problems and 10 priority weed problems out of all the possible pests affecting all crop groups in Canada. 

If a particular pest or disease is one of the few selected, then the PMC will help fill any data gaps that are preventing a pesticide from being registered to “solve” a priority problem.  They do this by assisting registrants in compiling data, conducting efficacy trials, sponsoring pesticide dissipation research, and coordinating discussions with Health Canada.  Because of the workload involved, this avenue of registration often takes longer than an URMUR or URMULE.

A researcher in a full spray suit applying pesticides to seedlings in the ground.
A pesticide residue trial being conducted by members of the Pest Management Centre (PMC). Photo from

FCG has been very fortunate in being able to isolate multiple priorities annually – sometimes up to 5-6.  This has benefited growers tremendously, as many pesticides used in greenhouses today were registered with the PMC’s assistance

Quarantine Issues:

Although we have been fortunate enough not to have to deal with many invasive pests, they can occur from time-to-time and threaten the ability of farmers to move and export plants. 

In the past, growers have had to deal with issues like Chrysanthemum White Rust, Sudden Oak Death, Duponchelia and Japanese Beetle. All of these quarantinable pests required expedited pest management solutions. 

Submitting emergency use registrations remains a very high priority, with subsequent full registration requests being prepared thereafter. In fact, we just oversaw a new pesticide registration, Acelepryn (chlorantraniliprole) for those in JB regions who need to treat their crops during flight period.  Typically, an emergency use registration can be processed for grower use in under a month.

Grower Involvement is Key:

One of the activities I enjoy most about working for an industry association is visiting greenhouses and talking to growers directly.  This allows me to hear first-hand about issues affecting the sector.  Grower visits steer my focus on priority pests and diseases and help me find tools to control them.

If you would like to know more about the role that Flowers Canada FCG logoGrowers plays in pesticide registration, please visit our website ( or call/email me anytime (519.836.5495 X228,

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