Dicamba Analysis: Front Page Article in Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Bryce Gray reported on the front page of Sunday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch that, “The new dicamba system — fully available for the first time this growing season — is hailed by many farmers in the Bootheel as a critical tool that has helped facilitate record yields and some of the ‘cleanest’ or least weed-afflicted crops since Roundup-resistant seed varieties first came out in the 1990s.

“But others, such as [farmer Chris Crosskno], have not shared the abundance enabled by the technology, and have perhaps even been hurt by it.

“Though an effective weedkiller, dicamba is a notoriously volatile chemical, meaning it is prone to turning into vapor that can drift off target. Soybeans are particularly sensitive to dicamba damage, but many types of nontolerant plants — including trees and garden vegetables — can also be susceptible to injury.”

Mr. Gray noted that, “With the harvest ongoing, the impact that damage could have on Crosskno’s yields is still coming into focus. But he worries that, like some of his neighbors are reporting, he could lose 8 to 10 bushels of his LibertyLink soybeans per acre — a loss that would amount to $180,000 or so.

“To avoid future losses, Crosskno says he’ll have no choice but to switch, begrudgingly, to Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant seed next year, sparing himself the stress he has endured this season.

“‘You either get on board or get hurt,’ he said. ‘I absolutely hate it. I despise the idea that Monsanto can dictate what we have to use, have to plant.'”

Yesterday’s article added that, “Complaints of dicamba-related crop damage have mushroomed into a national epidemic this year, surfacing in 21 states and launching thousands of case-by-case investigations by state departments of agriculture. The Mid-South has been hit especially hard, with northeast Arkansas and the Bootheel standing out as areas with the nation’s highest concentration of damage reports.”

And, Mr. Gray noted that, “Many Bootheel growers, though, want to give dicamba technology time to work out any kinks, echoing the industry’s calls for better education about application methods aimed to minimize volatility and physical drift.

“‘We need more certification and need more education,’ [farmer Jason Bean] said. ‘The last thing we want to do is hurt anybody.’

“‘This is a tool in our arsenal that we have to have,’ added Terry Weaver, a grower near Holcomb pleased with his switch to Xtend seed this year. ‘We grow by our mistakes and learn by them. And that’s what we had to do this year.’

But Weaver and others know that it’s just a matter of time before weeds develop resistance to dicamba, and the cycle repeats itself.”

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