Dicamba Decision Delayed

EPA Lengthens Comment Period

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Growers are not likely to be able to use dicamba herbicides over the top of dicamba-tolerant soybeans in 2016. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Illinois (DTN) -- The Environmental Protection Agency has extended the public comment period on dicamba formulations to be used with Monsanto's new Xtend herbicide trait technology to May 31. That means growers can plant the technology, but will not have a dicamba herbicide available in time to use during the 2016 season.

Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and many other licensees commercialized dicamba-tolerant soybeans for the first time this spring. Farmers have already taken delivery and in some cases planted Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) soybeans. Companies have informed DTN that they are working with growers to exchange product upon request. Growers are urged to work with their seed dealers if they wish to swap seed.

"We do not expect dicamba to be available for in-crop use in 2016," said Monsanto spokesman John Combest. That means any use of a dicamba herbicide on RR2X soybeans in-season during 2016 before final labels are approved by EPA and state officials would be a violation of law.

"After the comment period closes, EPA will review all of the comments and reach a final decision, which the agency expects to issue in late summer or early fall 2016," EPA officials told DTN in late March.

Growers can still use glyphosate (Roundup) since the RR2X system also contains that trait, but weeds have become increasingly resistant to glyphosate.

EU ACCEPTANCE LACKING

The RR2X technology also faces an additional marketing hurdle that it lacks import approvals in the European Union, which is an important export market for U.S. soybeans and soybean meal. Many grain elevators, soybean processors and other first purchasers have issued notices stating they will not accept RR2X soybeans this fall without those approvals. Chinese import approvals for the RR2X technology came in February 2016.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) issued notice that final approval by the EU Commission has been expected for the past few months. ASA also said approvals were expected before harvest, but were not guaranteed.

As of April 27, EPA had received 2,402 comments on the proposed draft label for the dicamba herbicides currently under review for RR2X soybeans. Monsanto's initial application was for what the company has called M1691 -- based on the same salt as Clarity herbicide. Once that registration is received, the company plans to immediately apply for approval of their single dicamba (XtendiMax) and glyphosate/dicamba premix (Roundup Xtend) that contain VaporGrip. BASF has a dicamba-only low-volatility product called Engenia.

To read comments or make a comment go here: http://1.usa.gov/…

For information on the extension: http://1.usa.gov/…

Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.Smith@dtn.com

Fallow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

(SK/CZ)

Pam Smith