We Have A Dicamba Problem
Aug 14, 2017
I spoke earlier in the summer about the problems arising from widespread planting of dicamba-resistant beans and the off-target dicamba damaging other crops. Since then, the issues have not gotten better.
As Tyne has reported here on U.S. Farm Report, weed experts all across the Corn Belt have been deluged with questions and complaints about dicamba damage.
Insurance companies have made it clear they want no part of the liability involved, causing commercial and custom applicators to hesitate to spray dicamba in many places.
State government oversight agencies are wrestling with possible actions. I would suspect litigation attorneys are carefully preparing the ground work for possible individual and even class action lawsuits with several zeroes in the damage claim numbers.
And all of us are anticipating the yield maps documenting unhappy results when the combines start rolling.
The arc of this story is becoming clear I think.
First, weed pressure is intensifying, and dicamba resistant crops are clearly one powerful tool to bolster our arsenal to combat this threat. Our experience is it works very well.
Second, efforts to keep dicamba in its place have produced mixed and even counter-productive results. For example, many troublesome species invade from the outside in, such as this waterhemp. The required buffer zones for many dicamba applications frustrate attacking this problem.
Adjuvants and mechanical means of controlling drift and volatilization seem to decrease the effectiveness of dicamba on some weeds. Dicamba’s volatility is actually a plus when tackling many weeds as it helps disperse to all the growing points.
Finally, it borders on impossible to clean a sprayer thoroughly enough to prevent some damage on subsequent applications. For all practical purposes, you clean out dicamba by spraying fall burndown.
Weed scientists have used cautious wording, but more voices are pointing out what has been obvious to farmers and applicators for weeks: this is not imaginary nor is there some other mysterious cause.
We have a dicamba problem.