Pre-harvest crop desiccation (also siccation ) refers to the application of a herbicide to a crop shortly before harvest. The herbicide most widely used is glyphosate, while use of diquat and glufosinate is much more limited. For potatoes, carfentrazone-ethyl is used. Other desiccants are cyanamide, cinidon-ethyl, and pyraflufen.
Uneven crop growth is a problem in northern climates, with wet summers, or poor weed control. With desiccation a number of advantages are cited: More even ripening is achieved and harvest can be conducted earlier; weed control is initiated for a future crop; earlier ripening allows for earlier replanting; desiccation reduces green material in the harvest putting less strain on harvesting machinery. Some crop may be mechanically destroyed when crop desiccation machinery moves through the field.
- Oilseed rape
- Potatoes (not with glyphosate)
Glyphosate is applied to plants just before harvest and absorbed by plants; it cannot be washed out prior to human use. Herbicides can also reach humans through meat and milk of cattle that has been fed herbicide-treated fodder. It has been identified in the urine of urban dwellers who do not handle glyphosate at concentrations of 0.5-2ng/ml, much higher than allowed in drinking water (<0.1ng/ml). The extent and the effects of an accumulating glyphosate contamination of humans and animals deserve further studies.
- "Assessment of large-scale test – Pre-harvest siccation in rape". Feiffer-consult. Retrieved 06/02/2013.
- "The agronomic benefits of glyphosate in Europe". Monsanto Europe SA. February 2010. Retrieved 06/02/2013.
- "Desiccation programmes". Potato Council. 08/02/2011. Retrieved 06/02/2013.
- Brändli D, Reinacher S (January 2012). "Herbicides found in human urine". Ithaka Journal. Retrieved 06/03/2013.