Hearing about the thousands of soybean acres and other crops damaged last summer from illegal dicamba use affirmed just how desperate some farmers are to control herbicide-resistant weeds on their farm.
While the damage occurred largely in the South, it doesn’t mean growers in the Corn Belt aren’t facing similar problems. This month we asked growers if they’re planning on using Monsanto’s XtendiMax or BASF’s Engenia dicamba herbicides coming to market in 2017, and when I last checked the results, 41% of no-tillers said they were. Another 44% said they wouldn’t, while 15% weren’t sure.
I talked to University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager about some of these new formulations coming to market, and he fears that a lot of growers have the expectation these herbicides will do what Roundup did when it first entered the market.
“This is just another tool,” he says. “It seems the perception by many farmers is that this is going to be the solution. And the fact of the matter is, that is a bit more optimistic than what reality is going to show.”
Given the extensive rules and restrictions in place for applying these herbicides, Hager warns it’s going to be the most complicated and complex system we’ve ever had. And despite the lower volatility rates both products offer, he expects the drift problems we saw in the South last year will likely happen in the Midwest as well.
Which is why the EPA has put a 2-year registration on these herbicides. Whether we’ll see them continue beyond that timeframe depends on how they’re used. So it’s very important that growers and applicators use this technology responsibly if we want to have it in our toolbox for the long-term.
If you’re planning on using these herbicides in 2017, keep an eye out for the Winter 2017 issue of Conservation Tillage Guide. You’ll find an article specifically on dicamba, along with a roundup of the latest herbicides and other crop-protection products coming to market. We’ll also be publishing a special report this spring with additional tools and practices to help protect your operation from yield-robbing weeds.
You can also check out this article Hager wrote on where these dicamba herbicides will best fit in your operation.