Resurfaced Reports of Dicamba Damage in Missouri

Since mid-July, Missouri farmers have resumed spraying dicamba after a temporary ban on the controversial weedkiller was lifted by the state Department of Agriculture. Now, some farmers are reporting that damage to sensitive crops is reappearing — a lag time that suggests the injury occurred soon after the ban ended.

“Tom Burnham, a Blytheville, Ark., grower who farms thousands of acres in Arkansas and across the state line in Missouri, says that ‘every acre’ of his Missouri soybeans is showing symptoms of damage incurred since that time. He blames the recent applications of the herbicide, which can be prone to vaporizing — or volatilizing — and drifting off-target.

“‘We’re just now seeing the fallout,’ said Burnham on Tuesday, noting that signs of damage, such as cupped leaves, take a week or two to emerge. ‘This has raised its head again in the last three days.'”

Mr. Gray noted that, “In comparison, Burnham says the bulk of his acreage in Arkansas — where a similar dicamba ban remains in place — has been spared the same recent damage, with some fields near the state border standing as an exception.

“In places, he says his injured crops are ‘at least a mile away’ from the nearest possible point source of dicamba. To him, that distance helps underscore that newly approved forms of the herbicide can’t be safely used alongside farmers whose crops aren’t genetically modified to tolerate the chemical.”

The Post-Dispatch article added that, “Representatives from both Monsanto and BASF said the companies continue their own investigations into reported damage attributed to their new dicamba formulations. Officials at Monsanto and throughout the industry ‘absolutely continue to stand by the technology,’ suggesting that this year’s complaints may result from illegal use of unapproved, more volatile forms of dicamba or lack of compliance with proper spray procedures.

“Those claims, however, are challenged not only by farmers such as Burnham but by a growing chorus of experts at universities and extension offices who have levied harsh criticism toward the agricultural industry for what they say is a failure to acknowledge an obvious problem of off-target dicamba movement.”

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