Since June 22, the Department of Agriculture has received 124 pesticide drift complaints believed to be related to herbicide use incidents mostly involving a four county area in southeast Missouri. The four counties are Stoddard, Dunklin, New Madrid and Pemiscot. The department has also received a small number of complaints from Butler County and Carroll County.
The complaints allege herbicide drift damage to more than 41,000 acres of soybeans as well as peaches, tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, rice, purple-hull peas, peanuts, cotton and alfalfa. Residential gardens, trees and shrubs have been included in the damage reports.
Herbicide products containing Dicamba are registered for use in controlling broadleaf weeds and woody plants. Current allowable uses for Dicamba products are restricted to pre-plant and post-harvest burndown applications. Dicamba is a highly volatile herbicide that is prone to move off target by the way of drift or through vapor volatility.
In 2015, USDA approved the Dicamba-tolerant seed technology for cotton, soybean and corn in order to assist farmers in controlling Glyphosate-resistant weeds. The new technology formulations of Dicamba are supposed to reduce off target movement if used in accordance with the product labels. At that time, EPA had not approved the new Dicamba technology for use on the new Dicamba-tolerant crops.
On Nov. 6, 2016, EPA registered a Dicamba formulation, Xtendimax™ with Vapor Grip™ Technology, which is specifically designed to have lower volatility, to control weeds in cotton and soybean crops genetically engineered to tolerate dicamba.
Similar complaints alleging Dicamba misuse have been received in other states where the Dicamba-tolerant seed was planted. The use of Dicamba in-crop in Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans is a violation of federal and state law. Unapproved or off label use could result in penalties.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Dicamba?
Dicamba is an active ingredient contained in certain herbicides. Herbicides containing Dicamba are registered for uses in agriculture, residential areas, and other sites to address broadleaf weeds and woody plants. Current registrations for use on cotton and soybeans are restricted to preplant and postharvest burndown applications. The product labels for these herbicides specify this restriction.
- Have any farmers or pesticide applicators been prosecuted for illegal spraying of Dicamba this year?
Investigations are ongoing.
- What has the Missouri Department of Agriculture done to address the situation?
The goal of Plant Industries Division’s Pesticide Program is to prevent unreasonable adverse effects of pesticide use on non-target crops and the environment while helping assure the availability of pesticides needed to maintain our quality of life. This is accomplished by licensing pesticide applicators and dealers, registering pesticides and performing inspections and investigations in the enforcement of the Missouri Pesticide Use Act and the Missouri Pesticide Registration Act.
The department is thoroughly investigating these complaints.
- How many pesticide drift complaints does the department investigate each year?
Total Pesticide Incidents (Ag Use and Non Ag Use) involving filed complaints investigated by the Pesticide Program:
FY 2012 – 97
FY 2013 – 75 (one complaint was Dicamba-related)
FY 2014 – 75
FY 2015 – 90 (three complaints were Dicamba-related)
FY 2016 – 97 (27 complaints are allegedly Dicamba-related)
FY 2017 (July 1– Aug. 25, 2016) – 98 (92 complaints are allegedly Dicamba-related)
- What is the department's estimate of how much crop damage has occurred in the Bootheel and to what crops?
The department does not assess crop damage in terms of yield loss.