Nov. 5, 2018
The U.S. Environmental Protection agency has announced it has extended the registration for dicamba herbicides for use in Roundup Ready Xtend crops for an additional two years.
At the same time, the agency also handed down more label requirements for using XtendiMax, FeXapan and Engenia herbicides in dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans.
In a news release, EPA stated that the action considered input and collaboration between EPA state regulators, farmers, academic researchers, pesticide manufacturers and other stakeholders.
"EPA understands that dicamba is a valuable pest control tool for America's farmers," said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "By extending the registration for another two years with important new label updates that place additional restrictions on the product, we are providing certainty to all stakeholders for the upcoming growing season."
Those new dicamba registration decisions for 2019-2020 include:
-- Only certified applicators may apply dicamba over the top (those working under the supervision of a certified applicator may no longer make applications).
-- Prohibit over-the-top application of dicamba on soybeans 45 days after planting and cotton 60 days after planting.
-- For cotton, limit the number of over-the-top applications from four applications to two applications (soybeans remain at two over-the-top applications).
-- Applications will be allowed only from 1 hour after sunrise to 2 hours before sunset.
-- In counties where endangered species may exist, the downwind buffer will remain at 110 feet and there will be a new 57-foot buffer around the other sides of the field (the 110-foot downwind buffer applies to all applications, not just in counties where endangered species may exist).
-- Clarify training period for 2019 and beyond, ensuring consistency across all three products.
-- Enhanced tank clean-out instructions for the entire system.
-- Enhanced label to improve applicator awareness on the impact of low pH's on the potential volatility of dicamba.
-- Label clean up and consistency to improve compliance and enforceability.
EPA initially put a two-year time limit on the registration of the new, lower-volatility dicamba formulations when they were registered in 2016. Those labels were due to begin expiring in November.
In news releases at the original time of registration, EPA stated the two-year conditional registrations would allow the agency to: "... either let it expire or to easily make the necessary changes in the registration if there are problems with resistant weeds or pesticide drift." At that time the agency also stated: "Nevertheless, herbicide resistance is adequately addressed by the terms of the registration, and the Agency does not expect off-site incidents to occur."
But off-target movement did occur. In October 2017, the EPA announced it had reached an agreement with Monsanto, BASF and DuPont on measures to further minimize the potential for drift to damage neighboring crops from the use of dicamba formulations used to control weeds in genetically modified cotton and soybeans."
Still, the 2018 season brought another round of drift complaints from soybeans growers, specialty growers and homeowners. It also brought a groundswell of support from farmers who want continued use of the technology to fight costly and difficult to control weeds.
Questions remain as to what steps individual states might take to strengthen the labels beyond the federal regulations.
In Wednesday's release, EPA further stated that it had "reviewed substantial amounts of new information and concluded that the continued registration of these dicamba products meets FIFRA's registration standards. The Agency has also determined that extending these registrations with the new safety measures will not affect endangered species."