Monsanto designed the Xtend system so row-crop farmers could deal with weeds tolerant to chemicals like glyphosate. A special formulation of dicamba completes the prescription. However, dicamba has been known to be volatile and - under certain conditions – may move off target causing crop damage in nearby fields.

Monsanto is not the only company with a dicamba-based weed fighting tool.  Among them is DuPont, which is the parent company of DuPont Pioneer which helps fund the production of Market to Market.

Colleen Bradford Krantz (colleen.krantz@iptv.org) has the details.

Patty DeZeeuw, a crop insurance agent and rancher in Brookings, South Dakota, got the first calls about two weeks ago: Farmers reported cupped soybean leaves similar to those noted in other U.S. fields as suspected dicamba damage.

One farmer was as distraught as she’s seen in two decades of selling crop insurance. DeZeeuw had to tell him what he likely already knew: crop insurance typically only covers losses due to acts of nature. The farmer faces potential losses on 500 acres of beans after dicamba allegedly drifted onto his land from a nearby field.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has received hundreds of similar reports since early July, far more than the typical 50-some herbicide drift complaints reported most years. In some cases, state officials suspect the wind picked up in the day or two after application, and pushed the herbicide vapor elsewhere. They are confident most commercial applicators and farmers in their area were following label directions.

Producers in at least ten Midwest and Southeastern states have reported problems they associate with dicamba. Arkansas and Missouri both banned post-emergent use of dicamba, but Missouri ended the ban after putting stricter label requirements in place.

In June, a group of Arkansas farmers filed a class-action lawsuit against, among others, Monsanto, which sells Xtend soybean and cotton seeds that are tolerant to dicamba. DuPont and BASF also sell an EPA-approved dicamba product for post-emergent use.

Monsanto officials said in a letter posted online for growers: “However, we have also heard reports that some farmers are noticing signs of leaf cupping in nearby soybean fields, which could be attributable to dicamba. Anytime we hear reports of potential crop injury, from any cause, it concerns us.”

The EPA, which is investigating, recently issued a compliance advisory reminding producers it is unlawful to apply any other dicamba products during the growing season other than the three approved for such use. Others can only be applied for off-season weed burn-down use.

For Market to Market, I'm Colleen Bradford Krantz.