Dicamba injury complaints originating far from Missouri Bootheel

A Missouri Department of Agriculture official says dicamba injury complaints have spread from the state’s Bootheel region and now total about 120.  Plant Industries Division Director Judy Grundler says reports of crops injured by the herbicide now originate from parts of the state hundreds of miles to the northwest.

DSCN4816“Complaints are primarily coming from a four country area in the Bootheel region,” Grundler told the Missouri House Committee on Appropriations – Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources Thursday.  “We now have had a complaint that has come in from Butler County and a few complaints that are coming in from Carroll County.”

Butler County is just to the west of the Bootheel counties from which most of the injury complaints have originated, however Carroll County lies far to the northwest, much closer to the Kansas City area.

Grundler told the committee each of the 120 complaints is investigated individually, so it may take some time before the investigations are complete.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture says more than 40,000 acres are affected as a result of off-label dicamba use on Monsanto Roundup Ready 2 Xtend cotton, which is genetically modified to tolerate the herbicide.  The seed technology is approved, but the EPA has yet to ok the new formulation of dicamba that has less tendency to drift.  It’s suspected that an old formulation of dicamba is being used not according to label recommendations and subsequently drifts onto susceptible crops.  Most of the injuries involve soybeans, but fruits and vegetables are also affected.

Missouri Representative Don Rone of Portageville plans to introduce legislation in the next session to increase the penalty per field when compounds are used illegally.

“I probably will go to $20,000 a field, and the reason being is Arkansas just last week went to $20,000,” said Rone, vice-chairman of the committee, following the meeting Thursday.  Rone had earlier said that he planned to introduce a bill next session increasing the penalty for illegally applying pesticides from the current $1,000 per field, to $10,000 per field, saying that a $1,000 penalty is not enough to discourage illegal use.

Missouri lawmakers hold a hearing regarding off-label dicamba use next Wednesday noon at the Delta Research Center near Portageville.

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