More Dicamba Lines Drawn

Illinois, Arkansas, Others Add State-Specific Dicamba Restrictions for 2019

With spring spraying just around the corner, states such as Illinois and Arkansas are finalizing new dicamba restrictions for the 2019 season. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Illinois farmers and applicators will join the ranks of those facing additional regulations aimed at limiting off-target movement of dicamba herbicide this summer.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) announced Friday it will require Special Local Needs (SLN) labels, including new restrictions that include a firm calendar cutoff date and additional definitions for sensitive areas, for the use of the herbicide dicamba on soybeans in Illinois for the 2019 growing season.

On Feb. 15, IDOA notified the manufacturers of the three dicamba-containing products approved for over-the-top application to dicamba-tolerant (DT) soybeans that additional application restrictions will be required for the 2019 growing season. The affected formulations of dicamba are Engenia by BASF, XtendiMax with Vapor Grip Technology by Bayer, and FeXapan plus Vapor Grip Technology by DuPont/Corteva.

The EPA reregistered the three dicamba herbicides in October -- adding to the already lengthy and complex product labels. However, unprecedented pesticide misuse complaints associated with the technology have caused some states to question if the agency went far enough.

This week, Arkansas also finalized a cutoff date and other additional application precautions beyond the federal dicamba label. Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota have made adjustments to the label, while Indiana abandoned its plans for a cutoff date.

Here are more details for each of those states.


The additional restrictions beyond federally-approved labels are:

1. The implementation of a cutoff date of June 30, 2019, for application to dicamba-tolerant soybeans.

2. Prohibiting application when the wind is blowing toward adjacent residential areas.

3. Required consultation of the FieldWatch sensitive crop registry before application, as well as compliance with all associated record-keeping label requirements.

4. Maintaining the label-specified downwind buffer between the last treated row and the nearest downfield edge of any Illinois Nature Preserves Commission site.

5. Recommendation to apply product when the wind is blowing away from sensitive areas, which include but are not limited to bodies of water and non-residential, uncultivated areas that may harbor sensitive plant species.

The intent of these additional restrictions is to reduce the potential for off-target movement of these products, thereby reducing the potential for possible adverse impacts to dicamba-sensitive crops/areas, stated an IDOA news release. The decision to pursue state-specific SLN labels was made in response to the record number of misuse complaints IDOA received during the past two years, the release said.

In 2017, IDOA received 430 total complaints, 246 of which were related to the use of dicamba on soybeans. Those numbers rose to 546 total complaints, including 330 dicamba-related complaints, in calendar year 2018. Prior to the 2017 introduction of these new formulations of dicamba for use on tolerant soybean varieties, total pesticide misuse complaints average 110 per year from 1989 to 2016.

Because of this significant increase in alleged pesticide misuse complaints, IDOA reviewed special needs labels currently in place in other soybean-production states. IDOA also worked with several Illinois stakeholder organizations before making the decision to require state-specific labels for Illinois.

"We now have two years of data showing how dicamba has the potential to drift off target," said IDOA Acting Director John M. Sullivan. "It's obvious measures need to be put in place so farmers can continue to effectively use these products, while also protecting surrounding property and crops."

The Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association presented supporting statements for the additional measures in the news release.

"Illinois Farm Bureau supports the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) in their administration of pesticide rules that they deem necessary to limit adverse effects to the environment," said Richard Guebert Jr., Illinois Farm Bureau president. "Dicamba-based products are useful and necessary tools in the fight against problematic weeds, helping farmers to remain productive and profitable. Illinois Farm Bureau will continue to work with IDOA and other partners into the future to find workable solutions for crop protection products."

Southern Illinois double-crop producers are likely to feel the cutoff date most. However, worries of volatility climb as the calendar date advances to a period of potentially higher temperatures.

"The Illinois Corn Growers Association supports on-label use of crop protection products, along with farmer or applicator adherence to any additional label requirements issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. We know that Acting Director Sullivan takes seriously his obligation to protect the interests of many stakeholder groups, along with the preservation of public trust and transparency. We understand how the department came to this conclusion. It will no doubt cause difficulty for some farmers in certain areas and we are sensitive to that issue but encourage full compliance as per the 24(c) labels," said Ted Mottaz, Illinois Corn Growers Association president.

Also evident in responses was a statement from the Illinois Environmental Council. "Volatilization and drift of pesticides are environmental issues that can impact our natural areas, water, and soil as well as Illinois' growing specialty crop industry," said Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council. "I appreciate the efforts by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and industry stakeholders to reduce drift from dicamba. These rules are a step forward to address these issues. We are looking forward to working with stakeholders to research and monitor the results of the new labels."

Jean Payne, president of the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association (IFCA), focused on the importance of coexistence in her statement. "This proactive step demonstrates Illinois agriculture's commitment to stewardship, and IFCA will educate our commercial applicator members regarding these pesticide label changes to ensure the continued legal and judicious use of this soybean production tool."

The three product registrants -- BASF, Bayer and DuPont/Corteva -- have each submitted formal SLN labels for their respective dicamba-containing products to IDOA, which include the additional restrictions noted above. IDOA has submitted the resulting 24(c) registration packages for each product to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The SLN labels will be distributed in addition to the already federally approved labels with all Engenia, XtendiMax and FeXapan products sold for use in the state of Illinois for the 2019 growing season.


Most recently, Arkansas lawmakers approved the state plant board's proposed May 25 cutoff date for dicamba applications in the state. That proposal was reached after a contentious, 9.5-hour plant board hearing on Feb. 20, during which proponents of dicamba use in the state clashed with specialty crop farmers, organic growers, environmental groups and concerned citizens, who were pushing for a more restrictive April 15 cut-off.

Last year, Arkansas banned in-crop use of dicamba from April 16 to Oct. 31, but still saw roughly 200 complaints of off-target injury. This year, Arkansas growers will be able to make applications to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton until May 25, while observing a half-mile buffer around fields of sensitive row-crop fields and a 1-mile buffer around specialty crops, organic crops and research fields.

Arkansas applicators are also not permitted to tank mix dicamba with glyphosate, given growing university research showing that this practice significantly increases dicamba volatility. See a complete listing of Arkansas' dicamba rules here:….


The state of Indiana has done a fast reversal on 2019 dicamba regulations in the state. In December 2018, DTN reported that pesticide regulators from the Office of Indiana State Chemist (OISC) were submitting a 24(c) label to EPA with a June 30 cutoff date, based on the recommendations of a work group appointed by the Indiana Pesticide Review Board.

The work group also recommended 1/4- to 1/2-mile downwind buffers for applications near sensitive crops and residential areas. The group believed these additional restrictions could cut dicamba complaints in the state by 50%.

However, after state pesticide regulators met with several agriculture industry groups, including the Indiana Farm Bureau, the Agribusiness Council of Indiana and the Indiana Soybean Alliance, the 24(c) application was abandoned.

"Subsequent consultation with Indiana agricultural leaders has caused OISC to conclude that postponing implementation of any state-specific restrictions may be a prudent concession for 2019," state regulators wrote in an OISC fact sheet. The ag industry groups urged OISC to prioritize the needs of farmers who were planting dicamba-tolerant technology, given that most of the state's dicamba complaints in 2017 and 2018 were related to non-DT soybeans, not other sensitive crops and plants, state regulators said.

So, for now, Indiana applicators will face no additional restrictions beyond the federal dicamba labels for XtendiMax, Engenia and FeXapan. See more details here:….


The Minnesota Department of Agriculture went with a June 20 cutoff date for 2019, using a 24(c) label. While similar to the restrictions in place in Minnesota last year, the new 24(c) for 2019 will not include the 85-degree temperature cutoff that was in place in 2018. See more details here:….

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has submitted a 24(c) label to EPA with a June 30 cutoff date, but is still waiting for EPA to approve it, according to Tom Gere, assistant director for the agricultural services division of the agency.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture also went with a 24(c) label with a June 30 cutoff date for 2019 applications. See more details here:….

A handful of other states are forgoing cutoff dates, but are adding additional uses or requirements, such as in-state training sessions. Growers should be sure to check with their local state department of agriculture for additional state requirements on dicamba use in 2019.

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at

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Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN