Arkansas Plant Board committee votes to ban all dicamba from April 15-Oct. 31, 2018

dicamba-damaged soybeans

These soybeans were damaged by off-target movement of dicamba. The cupped leaves are a telltale symptom of dicamba injury.

The Arkansas Plant Board’s Pesticide Committee voted Sept. 12 to ban applications of all dicamba formulations within the state from April 15-Oct. 31, 2018.

The full Plant Board could take the measure up as early as Sept. 21 at its next regular meeting. If the board approves the measure, it would go to Gov. Asa Hutchison for his approval.

The committee’s vote essentially adopted the Dicamba Task Force’s recommendation to halt dicamba applications before most soybeans had germinated.

The task force met Aug. 17 and 24 to consider the problems associated with off-target movement of the herbicide. It developed a set of recommendations, including the application cut-off date.

The Plant Board will use the task force’s recommendations to develop dicamba regulations for the 2018 use season.

As of Sept. 11, 966 complaints of suspected dicamba drift within the state had been reported to the Plant Board.

Heading into the 2017 season, the Plant Board voted to allow application of only Engenia dicamba in-season over-the-top of Xtend soybeans and XtendFlex cotton varieties. Engenia, from BASF, is a BAPMA dicamba formulation with inherently lower volatility.

Monsanto’s XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and DuPont’s FeXipan with VaporGrip Technology are both DGA dicamba formulations. The proprietary VaporGrip Technology is designed to reduce off-target movement, according to the registrants.

Off-target dicamba movement and the resulting damage to soybeans has proved divisive this season.

Monsanto officials have questioned University of Arkansas field trial results. Those results have pointed to dicamba volatility as one of several causes of widespread damage seen in non-dicamba soybean fields.

University leaders quickly countered, issuing a statement defending their researchers and the data they produced. Dr. Mark Cochran, Vice President-Agriculture for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture pointed to similar trial results from researchers at the University of Missouri and University of Tennessee.

Instead, Monsanto blames a host of other causes, including improper nozzle selection, incorrect boom height or sprayer speed, applying during a temperature inversion, applying when winds exceeded label recommendations, improper sprayer tank clean-out and dicamba contamination of other herbicides.

The St. Louis-based chemical manufacturer has petitioned the Plant Board to allow applications of dicamba throughout the 2018 growing season.