Covering the expanding dicamba issue - the stories so far

Covering the expanding dicamba issue - the stories so far

Off-target dicamba drift causes problems in Mid-South. Arkansas officials move to strengthen restrictions. Will the proposals be implemented? Monsanto responds to critics of introduction of Xtend soybeans.

Updated November 10, 2016

Perhaps the temptation was too large, the resistant weed issue too pressing. The discovery that a group of farmers illegally used some form of dicamba on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and cotton has created significant issues for the industry. We've rounded up our coverage in this special report so you can keep track of what's happening on the issue. What follows below - in reverse chronological order - is our coverage of the issue so far. You can see how the matter has been unfolding since the discovery of the first cupped leaves in nearby susceptible fields.

We'll add more of our coverage as this issue unfolds. Check out the stories below to learn more about an issue that could have wider ramifications for the industry.

EPA provides two-year registration for Xtendimax herbicide with Vapor Grip Technology

On Nov. 10, 2016, the EPA announced U.S. cotton and soybean farmers will be allowed to use the new Xtendimax with Vapor Grip Technology formulation of dicamba to help control glyphosate and PPO-resistant weeds in their crops in 2017. For more, read Forrest Law’s EPA issues highly-restricted label for new dicamba formulation.

Dicamba drift: domino effect of bad publicity

Bob Scott, University of Arkansas weed scientist, offers up his perspective on the issues caused by dicamba drift. Turns out, there’s plenty of blame to be doled out. Check out Implications, ramifications of off-label dicamba applications.

Missouri farming pair: new dicamba formulations work

Several Matthews, Mo., farmers were among 33 farmers in five states who participated in the Monsanto Ground Breakers Field Trials Under Permit Program this summer. Participants were allowed to plant one trial plot of Asgrow Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and use an over-the-top application of dicamba herbicide. Read Forrest Law’s Missouri Bootheel partners spray XtendiMax – legally and safely.

Weed scientists say drift was expected

Arkansas has taken quick action in the dicamba issue working to issue bans on the use of specific kinds of dicamba in the state in an effort to deal with the drift issue. Two Arkansas weed scientists - Jason Norsworthy and Tom Barber - offer their insight into the issue and the ramifications into these new rules. Check out Dicamba drift expected, no 'blind-siding'

Arkansas pushes cut-off dates, increased fines

States can be quick to react when a crisis hits. For Arkansas farmers, news that dicamba may have been used illegally over new-tech corn and soybeans, brought a swift response in that state. From proposed limits on specific types of dicamba use to much higher fines for "egregious" use, the Arkansas State Plant Board is wasting no time. A wide range of proposals have been pushed forward, we looked at those proposals and how they might move forward. See Dicamba drift: Arkansas proposes cut-off dates, increased fines

Video perspective on 'perfect storm'

Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee weed scientist, talks at a field day about off-target dicamba issues, and notes that this year illegal use of the product also came when field and weather conditions were right for dicamba injury. Hear about the issue in his own words in this video report - Conditions created 'perfect storm' for dicamba injury

Getting perspective from the tech provider

In the controversy surrounding the dicamba drift issue, Monsanto has been tagged for its release of the new crop technology that would allow the chemical's use. Farmers were informed if they bought the seed that dicamba use was illegal, and in fact newer formulations of the crop protection product with lower drift and volatility are not yet approved for use. It appears some farmers who bought the technology ignored the restriction and went ahead and used dicamba. We talked with Monsanto officials to learn more about the technology and what the company plans for it in the future. Learn more at Monsanto explains actions as dicamba drift fallout continues

How to tackle dicamba drift

The Arkansas Plant Board is considering a range of proposals to tackle the drift issue. As noted above, the board has also issued proposals for higher fines. This is a look at the key proposals in-depth just as they were announced. Learn more at How best to tackle dicamba drift problems in Arkansas

Reacting to early reports of illegal dicamba use

News that some farmers had used dicamba illegally on new-tech crops resistant to the crop chemical was bad news for the industry. Weed scientists in Tennessee and Arkansas are looking at the problem and while they say there's plenty of blame to go around, there's no excuse for off-label use of the crop protection product on these crops. It's apparent that farmer concerns about controlling resistant weeds has outweighed their need to follow the rules, but what will it mean? Check out Dicamba drift incidents have ripple effect

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Communication apparently not enough

When Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans were released for planting in 2016, farmers were warned that dicamba was not labeled for over-the-top use even though the genetic trait was included that would confer resistance to the herbicide. Repeatedly state plant boards and Extension weed specialists warned farmers not to use dicamba. In come case, however, those warnings appear to have fallen on deaf ears. The result is big trouble in the Mid-South as more cases of drift appear. The challenge is that the dicamba these farmers are using is most likely an older form with higher volatility, and drift, potential. It's a rising concern for the industry. Check out Improper dicamba use leaves Mid-South a multitude of drift cases

More info from Monsanto on Xtend technology status

While Roundup Ready 2 Xtend technology has now been cleared for sale into Europe (which was an initial concern for many growers), the use of dicamba is still illegal; and it doesn't appear EPA will rule on that soon. We talked with Kim Magin, Monsanto director of industry affairs, to get more information about the status of the tech including why Monsanto released it to market. Get updated with Where do things stand with Xtend technology registration?

Second year with tech brought warning of bigger trouble

Monsanto had released its Xtend technology for dicamba tolerance in cotton in 2015, and Arkansas reported some incidences of illegal dicamba use that year. This year, the state has a lot of Xtend soybeans, and more cotton, which raised warning flags that trouble could arise. Looks like it's here with the growing list of incidences being reported on the issue. In this early season piece, we warned readers that over-the-top use of dicamba remains illegal. See Still no permission to spray dicamba on m1691 soybeans

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