As of May 26, farmers in Arkansas can no longer rely on dicamba to kill their weeds. The Arkansas Plant Board, after over 1,000 complaints and hours of debates, passed a motion to end the use of dicamba in Arkansas until the fall.
When used with the right dicamba-resistant seed, dicamba serves to eradicate pigweeds and increase soybean production. However, when dicamba is sprayed onto crops, it reportedly has a tendency to drift, especially as it vaporizes in higher temperatures. As a result, there is a a possibility of the chemical landing on neighboring farms and killing crops.
So far, there have been four dicamba complaints this year, but as the summer progresses and farmers experience more weeds resistant to other pesticides, there will likely be more. The wet spring also delayed planting, meaning that many soybeans may not even be planted let alone sprayed yet. Even with the cutoff in place, officials worry about farmers violating as they feel pressure.
Over 3.2 million acres of soybeans are planted in Arkansas each year, most of which is dicamba-tolerant. Recently, varieties of weeds in Arkansas have developed a resistance to glyphosate (commonly known as Roundup). To combat this resistance, companies, such as Monsanto (now owned by Bayer Crop Science) developed soybean and cotton seeds that would be tolerant to dicamba and sold them as a package with its chemical.
The ban will be in effect until Oct. 31 and prohibits the use of four formulations of dicamba. The four are FeXapan by DowDuPont, Tavium by Syngenta, Engenia by BASF and XtendiMax by Monsanto, now owned by Bayer. All older formulations of dicamba were banned by a Plant Board emergency rule that took effect on April 16.