Non-Dicamba Options for Dicamba-Tolerant Soybeans

After a recent court decision made it illegal to spray three over-the-top dicamba formulations, farmers might be wondering what their herbicide options are. ( Lindsey Pound )

Farmers were dealt a heavy blow late Wednesday night when three judges ordered Engenia, FeXapan and XtendiMax labels to be removed. The rule went into effect June 3, 2020, which means farmers cannot apply those products over-the-top and those manufacturers cannot sell those products.

The timing of this decision comes with challenges. Many farmers are finished or nearly finished planting soybeans, so it’s unlikely they would be able to switch to an alternative trait if desired. In addition, the cutoff date for application goes as late as June 20, meaning some farmers might not have applied dicamba product in a post-emergent application yet—and now they won’t be able to do so.

“For some of the retailers and farmers it’s kind of like pulling the rug out right there as they need to make these decisions,” says Ken Ferrie, Farm Journal field agronomist. “This changes [plans farmers had in place], you can’t go back and add more residual to a bean crop that’s already off very easily. We’re in a situation where weeds are growing, so once you take this product away it changes how big the weed can be. So, alternatives have to happen quick.”

With the weed threat already under way, farmers will need to make product swaps in the next few days to make sure they’re able to kill weeds, and on label with any alternate products.

“When we take that chemistry away here in Illinois, where we focus mainly on waterhemp because it’s such an explosive weed, that puts us into your Flexstars or diphenylether,” Ferrie says. “So, there’s a family of chemistry that you can use but it’s totally different."

Specifically, you can apply groups 2, 9 and 14 herbicides over-the-top of dicamba tolerant soybeans and still be legal. Watchout for resistance and other challenges.

“Changing that product also changes your carrier rates, changes your surfactants and it changes your nozzle. So, it’s not just go pick something up off the shelf, it’s going to kind of restructure what you’re doing," he adds.

However, with unexpected high in-season demand for alternatives such as Flexstar or diphenyl ether products, Ferrie says supply might quickly become an issue.

“We’ll have to fill in with everything from different brands, different mixes, different generics,” he says. “But if it’s not in the jug right now it won’t make it [to the farmer] on time. It’s not just a fire up this machine [and make more]. These weeds are growing, waterhemp can grow up to two inches per day. It’s going ot be a situation that a decision will have to be made really quickly.”

UPDATE, Syngenta statement 6/4/20 4:36 p.m. Syngenta's Tavium product was not registered at the time of the lawsuit pertaining to the other three over-the-top dicamba formulations. It is not part of the ruling. "We will continue to monitor the Court's ruling and evaluate any further implications that may impact our product offerings."

Stay tuned for more updates on the 2020 dicamba situation. Here are a few stories to review:

BREAKING: Court Removes Three Out of Four Dicamba Registrations

Complaints Weigh on Future of Dicamba

Dicamba Registration Extended To 2020, Additional Restrictions Apply