EFFINGHAM, Ill. — As the state with the most dicamba complaints in 2018, Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan has made “a very tough decision” to extend the herbicide’s application deadline for soybeans until July 15.

Originally set for June 30, Sullivan said the extra time has been allowed in consideration of the extreme planting and growing conditions from excessive rainfall, flooding and other water issues as well as opportunities to find favorable application conditions.

“We hope we are doing the right things. I’m hoping we’ve make the right decision here,” Sullivan said.

At an Illinois Beef Association conference on June 12, Sullivan said his decision-making process involved calling in stakeholders for discussions.

“The fear is that as the complaints continue to rise — they went to 550 last year — and if those numbers continue to increase, there’s a very real chance here in Illinois that we’d lose the opportunity to use that product,” Sullivan said.

His top concern is that “there’s a lot of stress out there in the farm community right now. I was hearing from farmers that said we need this tool in our toolbox.”

Sullivan’s second concern was the chance that applicators would ignore application restrictions for favorable conditions, so they could meet the original June 30 deadline.

“One of my concerns is that there’s going to be with the June 30 deadline that on June 28, 29 and 30, there’s going to be sprayers going when favorable conditions aren’t right. They shouldn’t be ignoring the restrictions,” Sullivan said.

“By giving them another 15 days, my hope is that farmers, applicators or professional applicators will adhere to all of the current restrictions that remain in place,” he added.

He also praised the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association and the Illinois Farm Bureau on their training over the past year.

While the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association leadership does not agree with the decision, association President Jean Payne said her organization fully supports it.

“He has to do what he feels best and we will support him, and we’ll do our best to just keep reminding people that there’s a lot at stake,” Payne said of Sullivan’s decision.

“All I can stress is that every dicamba application made from here on out up until July 15 just needs to be done in the most careful manner possible,” Payne said.

She warned that herbicide’s labels are “incredibly detailed” and stressed the need to strictly adhere to the favorable conditions requirement.

“It’s still our No. 1 priority to get the number of complaints down this year,” Payne said, adding that can be achieved if the label is followed. “But it sounds like it’s going to be kind of a tricky year.”

The IDOA is emphasizing these restrictions:

  • The extension will not be official until the department reviews and approves the registrants’ Special Local Needs product registration requests.
  • The additional restrictions on dicamba set in February will remain in effect.
  • Prohibiting application when the wind is blowing toward adjacent residential areas.
  • Required consultation of the FieldWatch sensitive crop registry before application, as well as compliance with all associated record keeping label requirements.
  • Maintaining the label-specified downwind buffer between the last treated row and the nearest downfield edge of any Illinois Nature Preserves Commission site.
  • Recommendation to apply product when the wind is blowing away from sensitive areas, which include but are not limited to bodies of water and non-residential, uncultivated areas that may harbor sensitive plant species.
  • Anyone who planted before June 1 will remain subject to the original dicamba application cutoff date, which was planting date plus 45 days. Illinois producers who planted soybeans after June 1 will be required to adhere to the newly extended July 15 dicamba application cutoff date.

Karen Binder can be reached at 618-534-0614 or kbinder@agrinews-pubs.com. Follow her on Twitter at: @AgNews_Binder.

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