The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it is extending the registration of dicamba for two years for “over-the-top” use (application to growing plants) to control weeds in fields for cotton and soybean plants genetically engineered to resist dicamba. This action was informed by input from and extensive 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.”
Ryan Rubischko, Bayer’s dicamba portfolio lead said that getting this decision from the EPA was much needed.
“First and foremost, we’re excited with the fact that the EPA announcement gave farmers and customers awareness that they are extending the label for XtendiMax® Herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology over the next 2 years. We know farmers are making important decisions now for their operations for next season. That’s a critical milestone. In my conversations with growers directly it is the most important one.”
State Chemist Dr. Bob Waltz says there are many unknowns right now until EPA releases the actual label.
“They’ve kind of talked about things that they are going to change. They’re going to go ahead and make the label use language that is more easily enforceable that means that it can actually be measured and you can say well this is compliance or not. Rather than saying, ‘go forth and do good works’, they are actually going to say, ‘do x and y’.”
The following label changes were made to ensure that these products can continue to be used effectively while addressing potential concerns to surrounding crops and plants:
Dicamba registration decisions for 2019-2020 growing season
- Two-year registration (until December 20, 2020)
- 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 4 to 2 (soybeans remain at 2 OTT 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
The registration for all dicamba products will automatically expire on December 20, 2020, unless EPA further extends it.
EPA has 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.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue released the following statement in response of the EPA’s decision:
“It is important that the EPA has decided to renew the registration of over-the-top use of this important weed control technology on dicamba-resistant cotton and soybeans, because it presents farmers with options. This represents the conclusion of a very thorough scientific review, in conjunction with stakeholders, involving site visits and careful consideration of facts. Producers who use this weed control method should review the label, understand why changes have been made, and ensure that all requirements of the label are met when the 2019 use season begins.”