Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Missouri and Arkansas ban sale and use of dicamba herbicide that drifts on wind and damages crops

UPDATE, July 15: Tennessee placed restrictions on use of dicamba, Pam Smith of DTN reports: New rules "require anyone spraying dicamba to be certified as a private or licensed applicator and keep records of the applications. Available hours to spray dicamba are now restricted to a period of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to avoid temperature inversions. No older formulations of dicamba products can be sprayed in agricultural settings for the remainder of the agricultural growing season. Applications over the top of cotton after first bloom are also prohibited."

Soybeans damaged by dicamba herbicide
(University of Missouri photo)
Missouri and Arkansas announced on July 7 the immediate ban on the sale and use of dicamba, following two years of complaints that the herbicide drifts on the wind and damages crops. The Missouri ban is considered temporary, "until a solution is reached," and the Arkansas ban will last at least 120 days, Chris Clayton reports for DTN/The Progressive Farmer.

The Arkansas State Plant Board has received almost 600 complaints about the issue, causing it to recommend a ban on June 23. A state Legislative Council committee chose to take no action on the ban, enabling it to go into effect July 11. Arkansas farmers caught using dicamba will face a $1,000 fine, which will increase to $25,000 after August 1, Clayton reports.

Missouri Soybean Association President Matt McCrate estimates that more than 200,000 acres of soybeans in the state have been damaged by dicamba in the 2017 growing season alone. The Missouri Department of Agriculture received 212 dicamba-related complaints in the past fiscal year (July-June), up from 27 the year before, Benjamin Herrold reports for Iowa Farmer Today.

Farmers use dicamba on Xtend brand soybeans and cotton, which are genetically modified to tolerate dicamba, notes Herrold. Many Missouri farmers switched to Xtend beans because most of the cotton grown in the state's southeastern "Bootheel" was already the Xtend variety, and herbicide drift was damaging non-resistant soybeans. "A lot of people felt like they had to protect themselves," said Kevin Bradley, a University of Missouri weed scientist who has been speaking out on the issue. "In the Bootheel of Missouri, it's a tremendous problem."

At a recent event, Bradley said that nighttime spraying, tank contamination and improper straying setup could be contributing factors to the problem. According to Herrold, Bradley "called on chemical companies, farmers, applicators and experts at MU and the Department of Agriculture to work together." Bradley said, "Everybody has a role. It's a call to action."

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