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Gearing Up for the Use of Dicamba Tolerant Soybean Technology in 2018 (05/03/18)

In 35 plus years in my professional agricultural career, I have never observed so much attention placed on a new pesticide technology.

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

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.

Andrew A. Thostenson

Pesticide Program Specialist


This site is supported in part by the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program [grant no. 2017-70006-27144/accession 1013592] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed are those of the website author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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