EPA likely to re-approve controversial dicamba weedkillers in 2020, despite widespread crop damage

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Crops damaged by dicamba drift. Credit: University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service

Herbicide applicators have the weight of dicamba’s future weighing heavily on their shoulders this year. EPA’s conditional registration lasts through Dec. 20, 2020, and the herbicide’s safety tests, label and real-world experiences will be scrutinized.

With so many acres of dicamba-tolerant soybeans, it’s hard to imagine dicamba won’t be approved, [Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association] says. Not approving it could open up the temptation for farmers, who wouldn’t have access to a legal product, to turn to older, more volatile formulations.

“It’s in EPA’s best interest to approve and allow states to have more control over the application process,” she adds.

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EPA could allow states to control cut-off dates and temperature restrictions, for example.

“We saw cotton and soybeans increase to about 60 million acres in 2019, and about 40 million were sprayed with dicamba,” says Alex Zenteno, dicamba product manager for Bayer. “Label updates for 2019 helped to ensure Xtendimax can continue to be used, that’s why we had label updates to reduce possibility of off-target movement. We’re sharing additional data this year, and so did other registrants.”

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