No Alternative Facts: Dicamba Cropping System Applicators Must Be Careful
During President Donald Trump’s inauguration, much fuss was made over the use of the term “alternative facts” vs. some of those being reported by the popular press. However, when it comes to the use of new dicamba-based cropping systems in the world of agriculture, there are no such variables, only definitive facts.
In essence, this is was the message delivered to attendees of the recent Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) annual meeting held in Peoria, IL, from Jason Norsworthy, Professor and Endowed Chair of Weed Science for the University of Arkansas. “Using dicamba in-season will require extreme amounts of care or else this tool to control resistant weeds could disappear,” said Norsworthy.
At present, said Norsworthy, both XtendiMax with VaporGrip technology from Monsanto and Engenia from BASF are primed to appear on the market for the 2017 growing season. However, using them won’t be easy. By its nature, dicamba can sometimes drift and damage surrounding crops/plants if conditions aren’t ideal. Among the label restrictions for use these products are low wind speeds (three to 10 mph), not spraying if rain is in the 24-hour forecast, and using no tank mixes. “In many ways, these restrictions contradict effective weed resistance management,” he said.
Furthermore, said Norsworthy, the supplemental label for XtendiMax with VaporGrip notes that use approval expires on November 9, 2018. “Why so short a window?” he asked. “Because my sources in Washington say that if there are any major issues with this product over the next two growing years, regulators want the option to stop its use.”
Norsworthy noted that there have already been a handful of instances involving crop/tree damage from illegal dicamba spraying that took place during the 2016 growing season in the Mid-South. “For this reason and others, many applicators I’ve talked with say they will not apply dicamba during the 2017 season,” he said. “Others will try it, but only by charging some kind of premium price to do so.”