Since its discovery in the early 1940s, 2,4-D, has become the most widely used herbicide in the world. (It was developed by a British team of scientists trying to find a way to suppress weeds and grow more crops while much of the farm population was going off to war.)
It was the first selective herbicide in that it controls broadleaf weeds and not grasses. But the herbicide has always had a “darker side;” i.e., it generally kills most of the broadleaf plants it contacts, including neighbors’ tomato plants and nearby crops such as cotton and soybeans.
It’s the latter possibility that has caused many growers to express concern as they wait for the regulatory hurdles to be overcome for the commercialization of new cotton, corn and soybean traits that are resistant to 2,4-D, glyphosate and glufosinate. The last hurdle was cleared a few weeks ago when USDA deregulated Enlist cotton.
Growers who have grown the new Enlist crops and sprayed them with Dow AgroScience’s new Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex D technology say they have not seen any problems with drift – if you follow the guidelines for applying the new 2,4-D formulation.
“With any new technology, there are always concerns, and this technology is no exception,” says Trey Koger, one of the partners in Silent Shade Planting Co., near Belzoni, Miss., and a participant in a panel discussion at Dow’s Driving Farm Solutions event near Leland, Miss.
“When we looked at doing this test plot with Jonathan (Seibert, Enlist sales leader for Dow AS), it was validation for us,” said Koger. “It was very encouraging for us to 1) see the crop tolerance and safety and the weed control efficacy and 2) no off-target movement that we could see for the crops around us.”
Coupled with residual herbicides
Koger, a former Extension agronomist with Mississippi State University, said he and his partners are “very excited to have this new tool in our toolbox. I think we’ve all educated each other about the importance of using pre-emergence and residual herbicides coupled with this type of technology. With it, we can grow very clean crops.”
“We have put it out in a breeze, blowing toward non-Enlist beans,” said William Lane, a producer from Eudora, Ark. “And it didn’t go anywhere. We’ve proven to ourselves that this new formula doesn’t have the volatility the old chemistry did.”
“There were some issues when I was growing up,” said Malcom, Haigwood, grower from Newport, Ark. “We got leary of that product then. But now with this new technology, we’re not seeing those issues, and the product is working really well.”
The herbicide has always worked well, said Haigwood. “With the correct timing and the correct application I don’t see a problem with it at all. I’m excited being in the agriculture industry right now that we do have something that will control these weeds and control them efficiently.”
Koger says he and his partners had the added worry of having a tomato farm located near a portion of their operation in the south Mississippi Delta.
“With sensitive crops a mile-and-a-half is really not that far when it comes to drift,” notes Koger, who said he double-checked the wind speed and direction before spraying Enlist Duo. “I had no issues at all with drift or volatility.
Use common sense
“We have no reservations about spraying Enlist Duo, but with that being said we have to be careful and use common sense and be respectful of ourselves and our neighbors and do things right. It’s a tool we’re extremely excited about, and it’s going to be very effective for us.”
For more information and to learn more about growers’ experiences with the Enlist system, visit the new “Experiencing Enlist” section of Enlist.com, the Enlist YouTube channel or @EnlistOnline on Twitter.