Applying herbicides without regard to the label has consequences

In Delta Farm Press

by David Bennett, Farm Press staff

Sadly, off-target herbicide drift leading to damaged crops isn’t new to Mid-South farmers. However, the concerns have become more pronounced with dicamba being illegally applied over-the-top of Xtend soybeans.

Unfortunately, damaged crops are only part of a set of problems.

“What’s happening is terrible on many fronts with many moving parts,” says Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee weed specialist. “The PPO resistance in pigweed has gotten much worse. More and more growers are saying they’re getting less and less action from Flexstar, Blazer and Cobra. And now this happens?”

The dicamba drift, says Bob Scott, “is an absolute shame. There’s blame to pass around to many facets of agriculture. You have to ask if the technology should have been released without the new herbicide formulations. There’s no excuse — no excuse — for making off-label applications. It looks like there needs to be some sharper teeth in the regulatory side. Guys with fields that have been drifted on won’t file complaints with the Plant Board. It’s just a mess and it’s irritating. This is really having ramifications, and setting up potential future problems, up and down the line.

“This is a big, black eye for agriculture,” the Arkansas Extension weed specialist continues. “And we’ve warned repeatedly that (federal agencies) are paying attention. I understand the EPA, the FDA, the USDA – which interviewed me about this — are all asking questions.”

Further, “Dow folks are also worried that their Enlist crops, which they held back this year, are going to be lumped in with all the dicamba problems.”

In Arkansas, “we’ve been trying to let affected growers know what to expect in terms of the injury progression, expected yield and those sorts of things. This is just one more indication how desperate growers are for some solid pigweed control options.”

For Scott and colleagues, drift has been a concern “all along. Even with the new formulations that will be registered, the cheaper, more volatile formulations will still be available. Well, if they’re being pinched financially, some guys will make the unfortunate decision to go with an unlabeled generic.

“And remember: the new formulations aren’t non-volatile but have lower volatility. It’s an odd situation because we can’t recall a technology like this being released without a corresponding herbicide. We had Roundup Ready, LibertyLink – none released without a herbicide.”

Read the rest of the story at Delta Farm Press.

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