Local Representatives ask for extension on dicamba application for farmers

By Joe Steck – Mankato Times

ST PAUL, MINN. — A group of local legislators are asking that the June 20 deadline for the application of dicamba herbicides in farm fields be extended. Dicamba is primarily used for controlling post-emergence broadleaf weeds.

Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska and Rep. Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal and other members of House agriculture committees filed the request with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, which follows unusual weather-related events this year. Heavy April snowfalls caused delays in Minnesota’s planting season and then persistent June rains further slowed progress. That has left little to no opportunity for applicators to spray their dicamba-tolerant soybeans this year, the first in which the state’s new June 20 deadline is in place.

In an effort to prevent dicamba-related complaints, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) put new restrictions on the use of the herbicide dicamba in Minnesota for the 2018 growing season. The current cutoff date is June 20th for dicamba herbicide applications, which was expected to help reduce the potential for volatility (movement). In normal years, Minnesota soybeans are still in the vegetative growth stage by June 20 and research has shown that plants in the vegetative stage are less affected than those in the reproductive stage.

Bennett said the time crunch for dicamba application is problematic.

“The unusual weather conditions this spring and summer have created tough circumstances for farmers in our area,” said Bennett. “It just makes sense to allow for an extension to provide some relief and allow our farmers to apply dicamba herbicides before the deadline hits. This is an important step to give our farmers the best chance at a good harvest in the coming months.”

Several House members issued a letter to the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday, formally requesting leeway with the new deadline. The letter states, in part:

“We, as members of the House agriculture committees, ask you to extend the date to allow for the application of dicamba at least through the month of June, to match our neighbor North Dakota, which has a June 30th cut-off date. We would also make it clear that we expect applicators to continue following all requirements on the Federal label, as well as MDA’s prohibition of dicamba application when temperatures exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit.”

In Minnesota, the XtendiMax, Engenia, and FeXapan formulations of dicamba are “Restricted Use Pesticides” for retail sale to and for use only by Certified Applicators.

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