Dicamba Herbicide Issues

DTN writer Pam Smith reported yesterday that, “The clock is ticking for dicamba herbicides registered for use in Xtend soybean and cotton. The success or failure of the coming spray season will determine if ‘over the top’ use of dicamba in those crops remains a tool for farmers beyond 2018.

“In late 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency set the registrations for Engenia, XtendiMax and FeXapan to automatically expire in two years. D-day for a decision on dicamba will be this coming fall if the chemistry doesn’t behave itself this spring and summer.

“Off-target movement and injury complaints have already led the agency to tighten labels further for the coming spray season. Grant Rowland with EPA’s Registration Division told those attending the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) annual meeting last week that the agency identified physical drift, tank contamination, temperature inversions, volatility and misuse as the reasons for the dicamba injury symptoms experienced in 2017.”

The DTN article noted that, “All three herbicides are now restricted-use products and have special recordkeeping provisions. Dicamba-specific training is required. The label specifies wind speed, spray hours and tank cleanout requirements and requires susceptible crop identification.

However, many weed scientists have complained that these label changes do nothing to address volatility of dicamba. They have repeatedly warned that some of the label language is intentionally vague in order to transfer liability to the applicators. For example, EPA now gives a ‘do not spray if sensitive crops are downwind’ order, but there is no distance or guidance on how far away a sensitive crop can be located.”

Ms. Smith added that, “Monsanto has predicted Xtend soybean acres will double to more than 40 million acres in 2018. More tolerant crops in the field could lead to fewer complaints on soybean and cotton but put other sensitive crops that have no built-in tolerance at additional risk if the product gets legs. Some weed scientists have also worried that applicators might get sloppy if they assume most crops planted are now tolerant.”

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