Dicamba in Tennessee: Year 3

Author: Larry Steckel, Extension Weed Specialist Comments Off on Dicamba in Tennessee: Year 3

A year ago this week I posted a blog that was titled “I can not keep dicamba in the field”.  At that time I, along with many applicators, was very frustrated by all the dicamba injury across West Tennessee.  So what is the status of the dicamba injury in what is Year 3 for us?

Unfortunately, dicamba-injured broadleaf plants across the landscape is still a big issue in 2018.  The change has been that the concern over injured soybeans has become less of an issue and moved to other broadleaf plants.

I would like to think all the dicamba training really helped ratchet down the soybean injury.  I believe it did help. However, I think the main reason for less injury is that most of the soybean acres in this state are planted to an Xtend variety.  Of the roughly 1.8 million acers of soybeans in our state a good 95% is Xtend by my estimate.  That means at most we only have about 100,000 acres of soybeans not tolerant to dicamba.  A good percentage of those were planted in our four largest tobacco counties.  Applicators in those counties made good decisions and did not spray any dicamba products even when they planted Xtend soybean.  This is a reason I think the training helped. Of course this decision is made easier when most fields do not have much if any Palmer amaranth to begin with.

The rest of the non-Xtend soybeans are scattered around West and Middle Tennessee.  I have visited a good number of these fields over the past three weeks.  The soybeans in many of these fields look like they did the previous two years. That is they have uniformly cupped up leaves from one end of the field to the other with really no way to tell which direction the dicamba came from.  In just the last week a significant number of these fields look to have been drifted on more than once. This would lead me to believe that the dicamba training was less successful than hoped.

The most notable change with dicamba is the injury it is causing to gardens, commercial vegetable production, home owner landscaping and trees. This has been documented by the Tennessee Department of Ag which has about 45 official dicamba related complaints at this time, a majority of which are not soybean.  This is a significant increase in non-soybean dicamba related complaints in Tennessee compared to this time last year.

The TDA complaints coupled with reports I have gotten from county agents would point to drift on home owners developing into a real issue.  In most of the county agent calls, no official complaint is filed with the TDA for a sundry of reasons.  However, that does not mean the home owners are not concerned as some have stated that they feel that they will not ever be able to grow a garden again.

What also points to the training not working well is how marked up by dicamba many trees appear in and around fields planted to Xtend. The most publicized of these are located at the Reelfoot Lake area and those trees do look bad. Unfortunately, so do many trees near soybean and cotton fields across Tennessee. Indeed I have been called to look at trees in some home owner yards that I could describe with only one word: “Embarrassing”.

In conclusion, we are well into year three in the Tennessee dicamba saga.  Based on all the field, specialty crops and home owner visits made this year it does not look like we are any closer to success in keeping dicamba corralled in the applied field than in years one or two.

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