Mid-South soybean farmers learning about consequences of not following label

In Delta Farm Press

by David Bennett, Delta Farm Press

When Monsanto’s Xtend soybeans were approved for planting this season, many applauded the move. After all, the technology means crops can be sprayed with dicamba and weeds are only becoming tougher to control. There was a huge caveat, though: while the seed could be planted, new, less volatile formulations of dicamba were not approved.

In the run up to planting, Mid-South growers were repeatedly warned over-the-top applications of available dicamba products would not be allowed. Even so, state officials fretted improper spraying would happen following a 2015 growing season when “some individuals — a very small group — used a dicamba product not labeled for this seed,” said Susie Nichols at the Arkansas State Plant Board in April. “That’s a big worry for the Plant Board; there’s a lot of Xtend soybean seed in the state. We’ve tried to let everyone know it’s a violation to use any dicamba product on this technology because none is labeled for this use.

“It’s a major concern because dicamba has a very adverse effect on soybeans. It has a propensity to drift and can kill an entire crop and a lot of this new technology crop will be planted in close vicinity to (vulnerable) soybeans.”

Sure enough, despite the warnings the temptation to spray was too much for some growers. Now, neighboring fields are paying the price.

“This is a huge issue and is really unprecedented,” says Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri weed specialist. “The situation with drift in the Bootheel is unlike anything I’ve seen before. I don’t know of any cases outside the Bootheel.”

In late June “the first complaints came in,” says Bradley. “Those continued at a steady pace for several more weeks. New incidents have begun to drop off, as I understand.”

The Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Pesticide Control is conducting investigations of more than 100 complaints in four southeast Missouri counties.

“Soybeans are what have been affected most,” says Bradley. “There will be yield losses, sometimes large, in some of these fields. However, there are some vegetable crops and homeowners are calling with complaints about harmed ornamental or fruit trees. It isn’t just row-crop farmers being affected.”

Read the rest of the story in Delta Farm Press.

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