The beginning of June offered a new obstacle for many field crop growers in Randolph County and across the entire United States. After the relatively recent release of Dicamba herbicide resistant traits for soybean and cotton, a court case in the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that all over the top applications of three Dicamba products, Engenia, XtendiMax and FeXapan are to stop after July 31, 2020 and that potentially none of those products can be purchased unless done so before June 3, 2020. 60-70% of all growers have already adopted and invested in this technology for the 2020 growing season, and this news emerged in the middle of it. Several grower groups filed an amicus brief expressing how they feel the ruling puts growers, who are managing an estimated 64 million acres of dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton across the United States, in a difficult and costly situation. This court case is still developing and will likely have shifted in some way by the time you read this.
The ruling was largely based off the amount of off target complaints that were received in the time since the technology’s unveil. That means that the product was applied in a field, but drifted and damaged plants in a neighboring field, garden, or lawn. Incidents are concentrated in the Mid-South, states like Arkansas, while in North Carolina we see very few cases. North Carolina farmers have experience working with Dicamba based herbicides since the late 1960’s. As a state that grows a large diversity of crops, many of which are sensitive to Dicamba, farmers here are aware of the consequences of off target applications and tend to be very responsible with their applications.
While rulings like this may lead people to ask questions about their food supply, I encourage consumers that have questions to contact a reputable source such as your local Cooperative Extension Office. Currently, farmers are dealing with a depressed agricultural market during this pandemic but are steadfast in safely producing food for the future, regardless of what that will look like. Even in these unusual times, I hope we can all appreciate that food is still available for us and the farmers that have grown it.