The Dicamba Task Force in Arkansas met twice and made a recommendation for an April 15 cut-off on the herbicide, essentially stopping the in-crop use in cotton and soybeans.
The meeting format was new to me. By the end of the second meeting I had a good appreciation of the process. The decision was a majority by their definition, but strong feelings continue on all sides of this issue, and that isn’t going away anytime soon.
The Task Force recommendation is just that. It will now go to the Arkansas Plant Board and ultimately to the governor and perhaps the legislature before it becomes a regulation for 2018.
I hope we can soon stop playing the blame game. I believe the best current solution to stopping the off-target dicamba problems is to stop the in-season use and regroup. If those who disagree wish to blame, so be it.
I fully understand why farmers are frustrated with pigweeds and happy with their weed control in their Xtend crops. Weed scientists love being a part of helping bring forth new herbicides and new weed control technologies. That is what weed guys do.
However, there is an environmental component to a herbicide application along with the efficacy component. The off-target situation with dicamba in northeast Arkansas, west Tennessee and the Missouri Bootheel this year is the most environmentally irresponsible thing I have seen in my 43 years as a weed guy. In order for any herbicide to be successful, it must be applied to the target area and stay where it is put.
More and more folks are being quoted in presentations and in the media stating their vast experience working with dicamba and “they have seen nothing like the extent of off-target damage this year.” A myriad of reasons are being offered, but the obvious is being overlooked. We simply have never applied large acreages of dicamba in summertime temperatures before.
While the companies appear to disagree, it is very apparent to weed scientists across the country and many others in the agricultural community that volatility is playing a major part in the off-target injury. If a chemical has a volatility component, the amount of volatiles moving off-target increases with temperature.
In order for dicamba to have a path forward in cotton and soybeans, the blame game must stop and everyone must work together to find a solution. And the effort must be led by the companies that produce the dicamba. That does mean just proposing more application parameters and increased training. A farmer or applicator cannot follow the labels now and get their acres sprayed.
The volatility of dicamba is going to have to be reduced to zero while maintaining efficacy if that is possible. Until that happens, the in-crop use of the current formulations will continue to be a train wreck. Soybean injury occurred all across the soybean growing areas this year, and a lot of folks thought it was bad.
However, if they increase the number of acres sprayed across the Midwest in 2018 by two- to three-fold and load the atmosphere like we did, they haven’t seen anything yet.