EPA announces new five-year registration for dicamba products on soybeans

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader: a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean checkoff

This past summer was tumultuous for soybean growers across the country in many ways. On June 3, farmers were caught in limbo as discussions between the U.S. EPA, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and herbicide manufacturers were precarious after the Ninth Circuit Court vacated the product registrations of three dicamba-based products. Those products include: Monsanto’s XtendiMax, DuPont’s FeXapan, and BASF’s Engenia, which had been registered to be applied as conditional use pesticides for post-emergent applications. The court held that when the EPA conditionally amended the registrations for an additional 2 years, the process they used violated the provisions of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

On June 8, the EPA issued a key order providing guidance on how those in possession of the products could legally proceed. The order applied to the sale, distribution and use of stock for the three dicamba products in question. The order stated that growers and commercial applicators could use existing stocks that were in their possession on June 3, 2020, which was the effective date of the court decision. Any use still had to follow the products’ previously approved labels, and could not continue after July 31, 2020.

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, the U.S. EPA announced a new 5-year registration for XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia. In the announcement, the EPA stated, “With today’s decision, farmers now have the certainty they need to make plans for their 2021 growing season. After reviewing substantial amounts of new information, conducting scientific assessments based on the best available science, and carefully considering input from stakeholders we have reached a resolution that is good for our farmers and our environment.”

Chemical companies were pleased with the announcement.

“The need for Engenia herbicide is greater than ever before due to increased weed resistance. When the weeds win, farmers see the impact to their livelihoods, harvests and yields,” said Scott Kay, Vice President of U.S. Crop, BASF Agricultural Solutions. “Controlling resistant weeds is not only a physical challenge for farmers, it also can have a significant financial impact. It is estimated that certain resistant weed populations can reduce yields by 50 percent or more. This means that farmers planting dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans could potentially stand to lose more than $10 billion if they lost access to dicamba-based herbicides, like Engenia herbicide.”

Bayer Crop Science, maker of XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology, was also very pleased.

“We welcome the EPA’s science-based review and registration decision providing growers access to this important tool,” said Lisa Safarian, President of Bayer Crop Science North America. “Growers need options, and we are proud of our role in bringing innovations like XtendiMax herbicide forward to help growers safely and successfully protect their crops from tough-to-control weeds.”

The new EPA-approved product label for XtendiMax herbicide includes some changes to further ensure growers can use the product successfully.

“To manage off-site movement of dicamba, EPA’s 2020 registration features important control measures,” stated the EPA. Those include:

  • Requiring an approved [volatility reduction] buffering agent (also called a Volatility Reduction Agent or VRA) be tank mixed with OTT dicamba products prior to all applications to control volatility.
  • Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed species are located.
  • Prohibiting OTT application of dicamba on soybeans after June 30 and cotton after July 30.
  • Simplifying the label and use directions so that growers can more easily determine when and how to properly apply dicamba.”

“Growers have been clear how vitally important this tool is for their weed-management programs,” said Alex Zenteno, Bayer dicamba product manager. “The EPA’s strong science-based decision and new measures, including the introduction of VaporGrip Xtra Agent, will help growers use the product even more successfully. We look forward to working with growers to ensure they are aware of the new XtendiMax herbicide label and prepared for the upcoming season. We take our stewardship responsibility very seriously, and we will continue to enhance our trainings, resources, and other support heading into 2021.”

The new EPA registration for XtendiMax herbicide follows Bayer’s recent launch for XtendFlex soybeans, which brings additional yield potential and weed-control flexibility to the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System.

“Now that growers have certainty about the registration of XtendiMax herbicide and availability of XtendFlex soybeans, we are excited for our customers to have an outstanding 2021 season and beyond,” Safarian said. “We are committed to the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System, which will continue to evolve and play an important role in Bayer’s crop protection and seed portfolio going forward.”

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