Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will approve three of the new dicamba formulations for over-the-top use for five years, according to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. The herbicide is labeled for use in soybeans and cotton with the trait that confers tolerance to dicamba.
The specific formulations include Xtendimax VaporGrip Xtra, Engenia and Tavium. The registration starts next year (2021) and runs through 2025. The administrator said they opted for a five-year registration, which is typical for pesticides, instead of a two-year like dicamba has experienced in the past because they had more data to base this decision upon.
“EPA will register dicamba for over-the-top use on dicamba tolerant cotton and soybeans, this decision provides a five-year registration to provide certainty to growers,” Wheeler says. “EPA. has determined that these registrations address the concerns outlined in the June 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.”
The administration said it reviewed 65 new studies when making this decision, reviewed all literature and consulted with experts before making this decision.
In approving the herbicide for use in cotton and soybeans, EPA provided the following changes to the herbicide labels. These changes, and all label instructions, must be followed for legal use:
- Downwind buffer of 240′ is required and a buffer of 310′ required where listed species are located.
- Over-the-top application of dicamba of soybeans prohibited nationwide after June 30, and after July 30 in cotton.
- An approved pH buffering agent will be required to be mixed for application to lower volatility. Buffering agents are registered with the EPA and must be documented each use.
- Opportunities for growers to use hooded sprayers to reduce buffers.
- States can expand over-the-top use to meet local needs by working with EPA.
“All of these efforts will help ensure there are not negative impacts on other farmers’ lands,” Wheeler continued. “States can further restrict, but they have to work with us and file the appropriate requests with EPA. We’re trying to have a national program here, we’re responding the the court’s concerns with a national cutoff.”
Dicamba’s use was hotly contested earlier this year. An appeals court vacated the product’s use in early June, which was followed by an exemption for use of stocks on-hand for farmers by EPA. The announcement brough confusion and brought dicamba’s compliance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) under the microscope. EPA took those concerns into consideration while making this decision.
“The economic damage that would result from not being able to use dicamba herbicides would be tremendous,” said Ken Fountain, National Cotton Council chairman. “We greatly appreciate EPA’s timely issuance of a new five-year label for the critical crop protection product for cotton farmers.”
Some have already expressed concerns about EPA’s most recent announcement.
“Rather than evaluating the significant costs of dicamba drift as the 9th Circuit told them the law required, EPA rushed re-approval as a political prop just before the election, sentencing farmers and the environment to another five years of unacceptable damage,” said George Kimbrell, legal director at the Center for Food Safety. “Center for Food Safety will most certainly challenge these unlawful approvals.”
This story will be updated with quotes and information as it becomes available.