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Arkansas Votes on Whether or Not to Temporarily Ban Dicamba

Due to a procedural error on Tuesday, the Arkansas state plant board will revote Friday on whether to temporarily ban use of the weed killer dicamba, suspected of drifting out of cotton and soybean fields to damage neighboring crops, reported DTN. Some 167 complaints alleging misuse of the herbicide, mostly along the eastern edge of Arkansas, were filed with the state board as of midday Wednesday.

Update: the Arkansas plant board is proposing an emergency ban on dicamba.

Dozens of complaints about dicamba damage were filed in Arkansas last year when dicamba-tolerant GE strains of cotton and soybeans were on the market but without EPA-approved nondrifting versions of dicamba to spray on them for weed control. Complaints are running at high levels this year despite the availability of low-volatility formulations of the herbicide.

At Tuesday’s special meeting, plant board members voted 8-6 to ban use of dicamba on soybeans and cotton for the rest of the growing season. The board has 16 voting members, so it was assumed that nine votes were needed for a majority. Later, it was realized that 15 members took part in the meeting, which would make eight votes a majority. The Arkansas Agriculture Department told DTN that the board would vote again on Friday due to the “procedural error.”

Fast-growing pigweed has developed tolerance to some herbicides, making dicamba a desirable alternative weed killer. Early this month, Extension weed specialist Tom Barber of the University of Arkansas said dicamba damage occurred in some cases despite proper handling of the chemical. He speculated the herbicide was more volatile than believed or that particles of dust carried droplets of dicamba onto untreated fields. “It is evident that even when applications are made correctly, sometimes that is not good enough,” wrote Barber. The Delta Farm Press said there were 27 drift complaints about dicamba in the Delta region of Mississippi.

To see the Arkansas state plant board map of dicamba complaints, click here.

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