Arkansas, Missouri ban dicamba

dicamba drift on soybeans

Dicamba drift on soybeans—photo courtesy University of Arkansas

After a series of delays, it appears an emergency ban on in-season over-the-top use of dicamba on Xtend crops in Arkansas will go into effect at 12:01 a.m., July 11.

Following more than 130 complaints filed with the state, the Missouri Agriculture Department issued an emergency moratorium July 7 on all sales and use of dicamba.

The decision to issue a “Stop Sale, Use or Removal Order” in Missouri is temporary until a more permanent solution is reached, according to a state news release.

“We want to protect farmers and their livelihoods,” Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said in the release. “At the same time, my commitment to technology and innovation in agriculture is unwavering. That’s why I am asking the makers of these approved post-emergent products, researchers and farmers to work with us to determine how we can allow applications to resume this growing season, under certain agreed upon conditions.”

The Missouri order covers Engenia from BASF, XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology from Monsanto and FeXipan with VaporGrip Technology from DuPont.

Missouri pesticide distributors and retailers must immediately stop all sales and offers of sales of all dicamba products labeled for agricultural use. All agricultural pesticide users, including certified commercial applicators and private applicators, must immediately cease in-crop, post-emergent use of all dicamba products.

Distributors, retailers and pesticide applicators in possession of dicamba products labeled for agricultural use are advised not to sell or use the products until the stop sale expires or is lifted, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Arkansas action

The Arkansas ruling came as an executive subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council adjourned with no action taken July 7, meaning the earlier dicamba ban recommended by the Arkansas Plant Board will take effect July 11. The action does not affect dicamba used on pastures and rangeland.

In response to the Arkansas ban, Monsanto issued a statement July 7 calling the move “premature.”

“We sympathize with any farmers experiencing crop injury, but the decision to ban dicamba in Arkansas was premature since the causes of any crop injury have not been fully investigated,” the St. Louis-based company writes. “While we do not sell dicamba products in Arkansas, we are concerned this abrupt decision in the middle of a growing season will negatively impact many farmers in Arkansas.”

Monsanto developed the dicamba-resistant trait and markets it as Xtend in soybeans and XtendFlex in cotton.

The Plant Board subcommittee had met July 5 to review a proposed 120-day dicamba ban recommended by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, but it took no action. Instead, the subcommittee deferred any decision until July 7. Again the subcommittee did not act on July 7.

On June 30, Hutchison sided with an Arkansas Plant Board recommendation passed June 23 that prohibit the sale and use of dicamba herbicide on Xtend crops. The emergency rule would be effective for 120 days.

Although the governor said an outright ban on the sale and use of dicamba concerned him because more limited options had not been fully debated, he said he was approving the measure because of the sheer number of complaints.

“I know the Plant Board also shares my concerns that this action is being taken in the middle of the growing season, but the volume of complaints justify the emergency action,” Hutchinson wrote in a June 30 letter to the Plant Board.

As of July 7, the Plant Board had received 596 complaints from 23 counties.

In approving the proposal, the governor requested the Plant Board develop a task force to review the dicamba technology, investigate the current problem with use and application, and make longer-term recommendations.

Before the ban, Arkansas growers are only allowed to apply Engenia brand dicamba herbicide in season over the top of Xtend soybeans and XtendFlex cotton.

Two other dicamba formulations, XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology from Monsanto and FeXipan with VaporGrip Technology from DuPont, are prohibited in Arkansas. But they’re registered in most other soybean- and cotton-producing states.

In January of this year, the Plant Board ruled that only Engenia’s BAPMA formulation of dicamba could be used because product registrant BASF provided data that showed significantly reduced volatility. The board prohibited in-season applications of DGA formulations, which include XtendiMax and FeXipan, because of concerns of off-target movement.

At the same time, the Plant Board implemented restrictions on Engenia applications that included a maximum wind speed of 10 mph, compared to the 15 mph on the federal label; 100-foot buffers around all Eugenia-treated fields; and a one-fourth mile buffer between an Eugenia-treated field and a downwind sensitive crop. Sensitive crops include soybean varieties that do not contain the Xtend trait.