Production Blog

Arkansas Continues Dicamba Debate

Puckered or cupped soybeans are a common sight this year as dicamba sprays have found sensitive targets. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Illinois (DTN) -- The debate over use of dicamba rages on in Arkansas. Last week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson referred a proposal to legislative committees that would temporarily suspend in-crop applications of the herbicide in that state for the remainder of the growing season. There are some exempt provisions for pastures in the proposal.

Yesterday, an eight-member legislative subcommittee further delayed decision making on the dicamba issue. Instead, the matter was referred to a special joint meeting of the House and Senate committees on agriculture, forestry and economic development to be held July 7.

The temporary ban comes at the recommendation of the Arkansas State Plant Board (ASPB). As of 5:00 p.m. July 3, the board, a division of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, had received 542 formal complaints tied to misuse or off-target movement of dicamba.

The subcommittee did rule to approve the ASPB's request to expedite a measure that would allow the board to slap those considered to be "egregious" offenders of Arkansas pesticide regulations with stiffer fines. The legislation increases the current maximum fine of $1,000 to as much as $25,000.

Farmers in the state remain deeply divided. Some farmers want to plant the soybeans and cotton containing the trait that allows them to spray the herbicide without injury. Other farmers want the right to plant other varieties that do not contain the trait and want to grow those crops without worry of chemical trespass.

The measures influence farmers in Arkansas alone, but the agriculture community is watching. In Missouri, 123 official dicamba injury complaints had been filed by July 3. Those complaints represent 45,000 acres of soybeans and over 100 acres of commercial fruits and vegetables. Residential gardens, trees and shrubs are also included.

The University of Missouri made a last minute decision to include a special session on off-target dicamba issues during the Pest Management field day to be held on July 7.

Midwest states are also reporting increased acreage of dicamba injury symptoms. University of Illinois weed scientist Aaron Hager said calls have been steady in his state over the past week. The characteristic cupping and puckering of leaves is taking two to three weeks from the day of the drift event to materialize in the field, Hager noted. In addition to movement of the chemical, there have been several reports of injury due to improper tank cleanout and applicators mistakenly applying dicamba to sensitive fields.

For a review of symptoms caused by plant growth regulators in soybeans go to:…

The Arkansas Plant Board is posting special dicamba updates here:…

The Missouri Department of Agriculture has a special dicamba page here:…

Pam Smith can be reached at



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