Two men at the center of a fatal fight allegedly over dicamba drift had an ongoing dispute over the issue, according to a local Extension agent familiar with the matter.
Missouri farm manager Allan Curtis Jones, 26, of the town of Arbyrd, in Missouri’s far southern Bootheel, was arrested Thursday night in connection with the shooting death of farmer Mike Wallace, 55, of the nearby town of Monette, Ark., according to Mississippi County Sheriff Dale Cook.
Jones told deputies he and his cousin had met with Wallace “to talk about a dispute between them” the evening he died, according to KAIT News.
Sheriff Cook said that dispute was over the spraying of off-label dicamba herbicide.
Bob Scott, who works for the University of Arkansas Extension, told AgWeb Jones and Wallace had appeared before the Arkansas State Plant Board over a claim Wallace’s crops “had been drifted on for a couple years in a row,” he said.
“With ag (prices and income) being the way it is, farmers are on tight margins and drift can bring yield loss,” Scott told AgWeb. "Disagreements happen every year. They usually don’t end like this,” he said.
Although details about the two men’s fatal disagreement aren’t yet clear, crop damage from the off-label use of dicamba in the area has been well documented this season in parts of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee.
Last July, Robert Goodson, Phillips County Extension row crops agent with the University of Arkansas, described the damage caused from dicamba drift this way:
“Just three one-hundredths of an ounce can result in a 30% to 40% yield loss," he said at the time. "Even an incredibly low rate can cause major yield loss at the right stage of production,” he said. “I think the bare minimum will be 10%, but that’s absolute minimum. It could be far worse at harvest.”
“It’s very unfortunate and shocking,” said Scott, “that this happened over a herbicide.”