Farmers for dicamba say spray cutoff date should stay in June

Dicamba is dividing farmers. The herbicide has damaged up to 800,000 acres of crops in eastern...
Dicamba is dividing farmers. The herbicide has damaged up to 800,000 acres of crops in eastern Arkansas. Some want the spray date to be cut off in the spring, while others argue it should be in June.(KVLY)
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 10:49 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2021 at 12:03 AM EDT
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LAKE CITY, Ark. (KAIT) - Dicamba is dividing farmers.

The herbicide has damaged up to 800,000 acres of crops in eastern Arkansas.

Some farmers want the spray date to be cut off in the spring, while others argue it should be in June.

Tyler Hydrick says there’s a need for dicamba and believes the positive results outweigh the negative ones. He’s a crop consultant and has a master’s degree in weed science.

In March, he presented his findings to the Arkansas Agriculture Board and managed to get the cutoff date changed from May 25 to June 30.

“In previous years, where we did not use dicamba on a few fields, taking a complete loss on the field because the pigweed was so bad,” said Hydrick.

Dicamba typically damages at least 10 percent of a farmer’s crop, costing them a million dollars. Hydrick argues that’s better than a total loss.

“So I mean, you go from potentially making something off the field to making nothing,” said Hydrick.

While most farmers know it’s effective at killing pigweeds, some say the hotter and more humid it gets, the easier dicamba can spread to other crops causing damage.

“Well, if I have a May 25th cutoff, I’m not going to get to use that technology on the soybeans. Our cotton planting window is typically between late April to mid-May. This year, it extended into June, so I mean, you’re talking about not getting to spray your cotton at that point,” said Hydrick.

Farmers against dicamba usage argue alternatives can be used like the less-damaging herbicide Liberty.

“Liberty was pretty effective for a while. We didn’t need any other technologies. Over the past three years, Liberty has really started slipping in a lot of areas. We have areas this year where I’ve sprayed Liberty in Wilson, and we’ve just missed them,” said Hydrick.

Senator Ron Caldwell (R-Wynne) says the clear victims are those facing damage. Hydrick says education can help.

“Where we do have damage a lot of the time that damage is not yield-limiting and things like watering frequently, if that’s a capability, will help it,” said Hydrick.

He argues if you don’t see a significant height reduction, usually, there’s no significant damage. He adds that farmers should educate themselves on the proper mixture, like not adding Roundup in the tank to reduce the pH level. That actually causes it to disperse more easily.

For more on dicamba, click here.

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