In June 2020, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to vacate registrations of the dicamba products Xtendimax, Engenia, and FeXapan. The result of the ruling has raised concerns about herbicide options available to control herbicide resistant weeds, as well as what the financial effect might be on the farm.
Brian Mills, an assistant professor of Agricultural Economics at Mississippi State University’s Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss., gave a budget standpoint of the dicamba ruling during a recent webinar.
Soybean budget implications
"This ruling has raised a lot of questions about herbicide options, especially when thinking about controlling herbicide-resistant weeds such as Palmer amaranth," Mills said. "To look at budget implications, we created some budgets to demonstrate the changes in revenue and what expenses look like when using dicamba compared to not using it."
For soybeans, Mills created three different budget scenarios. In one example, dicamba was applied, and in another, no dicamba was applied. In the last example, there were no post-emergence options to control Palmer amaranth.
The results show that switching to non-dicamba herbicides will have minimal effect on net returns, but net returns will be severely affected with no post-emergence options to control Palmer amaranth.
"The dicamba herbicide budget was a little bit more than the non-dicamba option," he said. "There was only about an $8.50 per acre difference, so it's not a huge difference. However, this shows there are options where you could save money.
"The problem is if you can't control Palmer amaranth. Then you must apply more pre-emergence herbicides, which increases the cost by about $20 to $30 an acre. There can also be yield losses in this scenario, which would lead to a further decrease in returns.”
"Everybody's budget is a little bit different, but there are some budget options as long as we don't get herbicide resistance that becomes a big issue."
Cotton budget implications
For cotton, Mills looked at two budget scenarios. One applied dicamba while the other does not. The budget implications show a small impact on net returns from switching to non-dicamba herbicides in cotton.
"Looking at cotton, there is only about a 50 cents difference, so that's a small difference between the two budgets," Mills said. "Herbicide costs don't change a whole lot. Again, everybody's farm budgets look different, but it looks like there shouldn't be a huge difference in farmers' budgets moving forward without dicamba."