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Mississippi restricts aerial applications

Aerial applicators in 19 Mississippi Delta counties may have a little extra time on their hands in the next few weeks. The reason for all of this mandated free time — a ban against the aerial application of some preplant burndown herbicides.

The ban is similar to one imposed in 2001, except for the addition of two different initiation dates, which are based on geographical location. The 2002 restrictions maintain the March 15 ban initiation date for the Delta region south of Highway 8 and set a March 25 ban initiation date for the area north of Highway 8. Applications in both regions are restricted until April 30.

According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry, burndown herbicides containing the active ingredient glyphosate, sulfosate and/or paraquat may not be applied by air without a permit during the mandated period of time.

Affected by the March 15 initiation date are those areas south of Highway 8 in the counties of Bolivar, Sunflower, Leflore, and Grenada, plus the entire counties of Carroll, Holmes, Humphreys, Washington, Sharkey, Issaquena, Yazoo and Warren.

Aerial burndown applications north of Highway 8 in the counties of Bolivar, Sunflower, Leflore and Grenada, plus the entire counties of Tallahatchie, Tate, Quitman, Coahoma, Tunica, Panola and DeSoto are restricted beginning March 25.

Similar to the 2001 ban, the 2002 burndown regulations maintain a provision for emergency exemptions granted by authorized Bureau of Plant Industry employees within the ban period. The state agency says this was done to provide applicators, producers and the general public considerable application flexibility while maintaining the regulatory objective of protecting susceptible foliage.

Provided when adverse conditions make ground application “impractical or unreasonable,” 72-hour emergency exception permits are made on a case-by-case basis based on, among other factors, adjacent crops and weather conditions. The permits may be renewed.

“I don't know of anybody that's had any trouble getting a permit yet,” says Glenn Holloway, an aerial applicator with Cottonwing Air in Shaw, Miss. “The Bureau of Plant Industry has been very cooperative when it comes to getting emergency exemption permits to apply burndown herbicides by air.”

He says, “To apply for an emergency exemption permit, all you have to do is call the Bureau of Plant Industry, and provide them with the farmers name, the field name, what product you will be putting out, and when you plan to make the application.”

According to the supplemental application label, “The Bureau of Plant Industry may at anytime, based on current planting and environmental conditions, modify the restrictions.”

In 2000, the Mississippi Bureau of Plant Industry received 146 agricultural related drift complaints and 62 non-agricultural related complaints. Of these, 43 percent of the drift complaints allegedly resulted from aerial applications, 24 percent from ground applications, and 33 percent from unknown sources.

The number of complaints, which had risen steadily since 1995, was down in 2001, which has been partly attributed to weather conditions and partly to restrictions on aerial applications.

Growers in Louisiana and Arkansas are not facing the same restrictions as their Mississippi neighbors. “They also don't have the same number of complaints we do,” says Tommy McDaniel with the Bureau of Plant Industry at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss.

For more information, contact the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Bureau of Plant Industry at 888-257-1285.


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