Beck’s Hybrids is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to limit dicamba use to pre-plant applications in order to avoid drift damage issues connected to some in-season applications. The company says it cares about choices for farmers and kept that in mind when making its recommendation. “We want to see as many choices in soybean technology as possible for farmers that include Xtend, and we sold over 1 million bags of Xtend soybeans this year,” says Kevin Cavanaugh, Beck’s director of research. “The challenge we have is for two years we’ve seen people spray dicamba and follow the label, but we still see drift and volatilization occur on non-dicamba crops.” In the past two years Extension weed scientists have reported millions of acres of suspected dicamba damage, including not only soybean acres, but to commercial vegetable crops, home owner gardens and trees as well. g. Cavanaugh says with this level of damage and suspected damage, company representatives felt like they needed to say something for a number of reasons.
“First, we’re concerned if drift and volatilization continues, farmers will say ‘I can’t use any other technology [besides Roundup Ready 2 Xtend] because dicamba could drift onto my field and crinkle leaves—potentially reducing yield,’” Cavanaugh says. “Therefore it forces them to one technology, and when we force them to one technology we get really concerned about weed resistance.” He uses glyphosate as an example of something that was used solo for a number of years, that now has a high level of resistance. If dicamba becomes the sole technology in soybean fields,Cavanaugh says farmers will see resistance to that technology in just a few years. “The second reason is right now agriculture is less than 2% of the U.S. and we’re really concerned that if dicamba is allowed to move freely in the growing season that homeowners will be detrimental to not only dicamba but future technologies as well,” he explains. “It could make them [herbicides] even more highly regulated and we don’t want to public to dictate to EPA [what is allowed with] this herbicide or any future herbicide.” And finally, Cavanaugh says they want to make sure access to the technology isn’t completely ripped from farmers’ hands. “We don’t know what way the EPA will go, they could just let dicamba expire, and we don’t want that either,” he says. “We’re not against Xtend, we fully support its use a pre-plant system so it doesn’t drift or volatilize in the growing crop.” Beck’s sent its letter to EPA and other state agencies on July 27. EPA will issue guidance on whether or not dicamba use will be permitted over-the-top of soybeans by the end of August.