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Recent court action and U.S. EPA decisions affect dicamba herbicides for use in postemergence applications in dicamba-tolerant soybeans.

Tom J. Bechman, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

March 4, 2024

3 Min Read
Rows of soybeans with weeds
WEED CONTROL TOOLBOX: Since U.S. EPA allowed existing stocks of dicamba soybean herbicides to be applied, they’re still in the toolbox for postemergence weed control in 2024. Tom J. Bechman

The court ruling revoking registration for three dicamba products designed to spray over dicamba-tolerant soybeans was the “shot heard around the world” in farmer circles. Roughly a week later, many let out a sigh of relief when U.S. EPA indicated that existing stocks of Engenia, XtendiMax and Tavium could be used if certain deadlines were met.

Weeks later, though, clouds of uncertainty remain. Will most farmers who intended to use dicamba be able to apply it? If too many people opt for an alternative, like Liberty, will there be enough supply?

Bill Johnson, Purdue Extension weed scientist, answers questions in this exclusive interview:

Will most growers who wanted dicamba still be able to apply it? Yes. The word we’re getting is that in most cases, there is enough of these products in proper channels to meet spraying needs. The only exception might be if a farmer made a last-minute decision to shift to Xtend beans and didn’t have dicamba lined up. So, we don’t anticipate a big shift to other alternatives. The trend before the announcement was toward more Enlist soybeans versus Xtend. Some put it at 60% to 40% Enlist to Xtend, others up to 75% Enlist for ’24.

Five years ago, most people expected Xtend varieties to dominate. What happened? The drift concern with dicamba didn’t help. Plus, there is no cutoff date for applications for 2,4-D, although there is a label restriction by growth stage.

Does the cutoff date for dicamba over dicamba-tolerant soybeans still apply? Yes. The federal date from EPA is June 12 in Indiana, Illinois and Iowa, and in Minnesota south of I-94. North of I-94 in Minnesota, it is June 30. It is June 20 in South Dakota and June 30 in most other states in the Midwest and Northeast. However, some state laws put restrictions on temperature. Consult your own state chemist for exact requirements and information about cutoff dates for other dicamba products. In Indiana, the cutoff for applying dicamba in corn or pasture is June 20.

If some people shift to Liberty on XtendFlex soybeans, will there be enough supply? Our reading is that there should be plenty. The bigger question may be price. Liberty was in short supply during COVID-19. Some retailers stocked up when they could at high prices.

Does this year’s ruling mark the end of dicamba products for dicamba-tolerant soybeans? No one knows, but most look for negotiation between the courts and EPA. Plus, it’s possible there could still be remaining stocks, which EPA could allow to be used in ’25.

The bigger question is what will happen to all dicamba in the future. We view it like atrazine, which continues to be under scrutiny every year, but which is still available for many uses. Dicamba is an important player in turf, pasture and corn markets. We expect it could still be around for many years, although there may be more restrictions. Only a small number of complaints about dicamba each year are about these uses.

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About the Author(s)

Tom J. Bechman

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Tom J. Bechman is editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer. He joined Farm Progress in 1981 as a field editor, first writing stories to help farmers adjust to a difficult harvest after a tough weather year. His goal today is the same — writing stories that help farmers adjust to a changing environment in a profitable manner.

Bechman knows about Indiana agriculture because he grew up on a small dairy farm and worked with young farmers as a vocational agriculture teacher and FFA advisor before joining Farm Progress. He works closely with Purdue University specialists, Indiana Farm Bureau and commodity groups to cover cutting-edge issues affecting farmers. He specializes in writing crop stories with a focus on obtaining the highest and most economical yields possible.

Tom and his wife, Carla, have four children: Allison, Ashley, Daniel and Kayla, plus eight grandchildren. They raise produce for the food pantry and house 4-H animals for the grandkids on their small acreage near Franklin, Ind.

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