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Gearing Up for the Use of Dicamba Tolerant Soybean Technology in 2018

Andrew Thostenson, Pesticide Program Specialist, North Dakota State University and Liz Stahl, Extension educator

Note: Andrew Thostenson, Pesticide Program Specialist with North Dakota State University, recently posted the article “Gearing Up for the Use of Dicamba Tolerant Soybean Technology in 2018.” He discusses some very good points pertinent to Minnesotans, considering the delayed start to planting this season, in his article reprinted below.

It important to note there are some differences between Minnesota and neighboring states in label requirements for dicamba formulations labelled for use on dicamba-tolerant soybean. In addition to the federal label changes announced in 2017 for Xtendimax by Monsanto, Engenia by BASF, and FeXapan by DuPont, these additional protocols are also in place in Minnesota:

  • Cutoff date: Do not apply after June 20. This is expected to help in reduce potential for off-target movement and injury potential to sensitive crops. This differs from North Dakota, which has a cutoff date of June 30th.
  • Cutoff temperature: Do not apply if the air temperature of the field, at the time of application, is over 85° F, or if the National Weather Service’s forecasted high from the nearest available station exceeds 85° F. This is also intended to help reduce potential for volatilization injury.
Besides any differences between states discussed in the article below, South Dakota recently announced that as of April 30, 2018, ALL pesticide products containing only dicamba and having agricultural use labels are restricted use pesticides. All applicators must follow the laws of the state where they are making the pesticide application.

In 35 plus years in my professional agricultural career, I have never observed so much attention placed on a new pesticide technology. I think Larry Steckel, Weed Scientist with the University of Tennessee put it best when he remarked, “I think everyone can now safely stop comparing the Xtend technology to anything else we have previously experienced. We've never had a label like this to follow." The reason is simple, when you have 3.6 million acres of off-target movement of a herbicide, that’s serious.

Everyone, from weed scientists at the universities, to industry, to applicators, agree, we do not want a repeat of this past year. Thus an extraordinary training effort has been coupled with unprecedented scrutiny of every conceivable management practice, label phrase, and weather topic you can imagine. So, let’s look at a handful of concerns and gear up for them:

Time is short

Just looking at the calendar at the time of this writing, applicators in North Dakota have about 58 days to get post applications of the new dicamba formulations applied to soybeans. (June 30th cutoff based on the label, even less if you go with the June 20th based on NDSU’s recommendation.) In Minnesota it will be less by 10 days. (June 20th label cutoff.) Compounding this will be the compressed nature of our application window due to the late spring. Most crops will be planted in a two-three week window and everything will need spraying about the same time. We also know with respect to the new dicamba formulations, night spraying is out and in North Dakota it means leaving another hour on the table minimum in the morning and evening to deal with inversions. Further, experienced applicators know that finding good weather is difficult in any year, with any pesticide, but the wind speed minimum is 3 mph and the maximum is 10 mph. Finally, rain. Hopefully we will get timely rains, but not too much to keep us out of the fields for too long. Regardless, from a practical perspective, time will be very short, especially in June, when most post applications will be made.

New restrictions take time

Obviously pesticide handling/spray equipment hygiene will take much longer to comply with than more conventional products and that includes documenting in a check list that you have followed all the necessary steps before and after the application. In North Dakota people will need to shuttle more water into the field, 15 gallons per acre instead of last year’s 10. (Minnesota applicators will have a bit more flexibility with the Engenia label, but they would be wise to also stick with 15 gallons.) Then there is the documentation of ALL the additional application record keeping requirements, which again is unprecedented. Finally, there is the travel speed limitation in North Dakota. 12 mph is the maximum travel speed.

Maximize your time in the field spraying

When everything is a go to spray, spray. Do not be doing those tasks that can be done ahead of time, like checking sensitive crops registries, or consulting the manufacturer’s tank-mixing and nozzle options, or trying to figure out an app or a new hand held anemometer. Plan ahead and use every precious moment you have to maximize your time spraying when conditions are right.

Prioritize your spray jobs

Since this technology is time intensive, consider off-loading some of your other spray work to those who may be more efficient in covering acres. In some situations hiring an airplane might make good sense. Be aware, while these people are open to opportunities, they aren’t looking to increase headaches with new customers that have unrealistic expectations or do not have payment logistics lined out. Most have clients they have been working with for years. They will have priority over new business and especially business that expects them to respond like a house is burning down. If you have not worked with a custom applicator in a while, whether by ground or air, it would be best to start having conversations with them sooner, rather than later.
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