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Arkansas court changes dicamba deadline

Soybean and cotton growers in Arkansas are free to spray the weedkiller dicamba on their crops until June 30 under an order from the Arkansas Supreme Court on Tuesday. It was the latest turnabout in court for use of the herbicide, which has been embraced by farmers as a tool against invasive weeds but criticized as too likely to evaporate and land on nontarget crops.

The state Supreme Court overrode a May 21 temporary restraining order from the Pulaski County Circuit Court that effectively made May 25 the last date for using dicamba during the growing season. The county court, in turn, had blocked a State Plant Board regulation that set June 30 as the cut-off date for dicamba.

With the stay issued by the Supreme Court, the Plant Board regulation is in effect again. It dictates buffer zones designed to prevent accidental damage by dicamba. For example, it calls for a .25-mile buffer between fields where dicamba is applied and fields with cotton and soybean varieties that are not genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide; it also requires .5 mile between dicamba applications and fields with organic crops or commercial-scale plantings of specialty crops and a 1-mile buffer between fields where dicamba is used and University of Arkansas ag research stations.

The Arkansas State Plant Board notice of the Supreme Court action is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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