As of June 26, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) is investigating 27 alleged dicamba-related drift incidents. The number of current Tennessee reports doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the 2017 crop season, particularly when looking a year backward: By June 26, 2016, the TDA had received only three cases of dicamba-related drift.

Tennessee’s off-target dicamba numbers appear relatively mild compared to its southwest/west neighbor. Arkansas reported 242 possible incidents as of June 23, and a proposed blanket emergency dicamba ban currently sits on Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk. However, Tennessee is typically slower out of the planting gate and seasonal progression (spray passes) tends to follow a later calendar schedule.

According to Corinne Gould, assistant commissioner for public affairs for TDA, 27 producers in eight West Tennessee counties have filed complaints with TDA regarding possible pesticide drift incidents: Crockett, Dyer, Shelby, Haywood, Lake, Lauderdale, Tipton and Weakley. In 2016, TDA began receiving complaints the third week of June and the reports continued through August.

University of Tennessee weed scientist Larry Steckel is alarmed by the increase of reports and says dicamba drift reports have been the majority source of his phone calls over the past week: “We had 47 official complaints in 2016, and I think we’re going to pass that easily at the rate we’re going. It’s simply not looking good right now.”

Steckel remains unsure whether the increased rate of off-target incidents is a long-term trend or an anomalous spike. “There are some great county agents out there fielding a lot of these calls which in some cases involve farmers who already have some sore feelings against each other,” he notes. “We don’t know how things will turn out as the season unfolds.”

“Our department is placing high priority on investigation of incidents of dicamba drift, including reaching out to private applicators and distributors to remind them of laws and requirements, as well as the companies that manufacture the products. We are also prepared to devote additional resources if necessary,” Gould adds.

For more, see Dicamba Ban Passes, Heads to Gov.’s Desk