Alex Zenteno, dicamba product manager at Bayer, is a “glass half-full” person – exactly who you need when working to overturn a decision made by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Back on June 3, the court made it illegal for growers to use three dicamba herbicides, including Bayer’s XtendiMax.
The EPA announced a few days later that growers and commercial applicators could use their 2020 stocks of dicamba according to the product’s label. The agency determined that entirely banning the three dicamba products immediately was too great of a blow to agriculture.
“This season, along with farmers and industry groups, we were really disappointed with the ruling from the Ninth Circuit,” Zenteno said. “The silver lining is we saw a really tremendous outpouring of support for the system.”
Bayer officials have learned that growers had tremendous weed control success with the use of dicamba, and this fall, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans (glyphosate and dicamba tolerance) show good yields.
Zenteno and others want to provide growers with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and XtendFlex soybeans – so they need dicamba herbicide products to fully use these products.
They believe Bayer’s XtendiMax is an excellent tool for growers.
“Currently, the EPA is reviewing our submission in support of any registration for 2021 and beyond, and this does include new data and analysis included by independent academics,” she said.
She added that Bayer “heard” the court’s concerns with the previous registration and the company is working with the EPA to address those concerns.
“Finally, the EPA entirely failed to acknowledge the risk that OTT dicamba use would tear the social fabric of farming communities. We, therefore, vacate the EPA’s October 2018 registration decision,” wrote the three-judge court.
Despite this ruling, Bayer has provided onsite and online training. Whenever there is a drift complaint, citizens are asked to report these to the Bayer inquiry phone number at 1-800-768-6387. A Bayer representative will reach out within 48 hours to gain as much information about the complaint as possible.
“We actually report all of those inquires to the EPA, just for tracking purposes and it’s part of our condition of registration, so we want to continue to encourage people to report any concerns,” she said.
Across the U.S., dicamba-related drift complaints were down in 2020 compared with recent years; however, in Minnesota and Iowa, drift concerns were up this year.
She asks growers to work with their neighbors, as well as understand the crops that are raised in their township or nearby townships. Endangered plant species also need to be taken into account.
Neighbors who together deal with problems of Palmer amaranth, kochia, waterhemp, or marestail can help each other to eliminate spray drift accidents by growing dicamba-resistant soybeans.
“We stress to growers that communication is the key…we find they actually end up sharing beyond the crops, but also the successes they have on tough-to-control weeds,” she said.
So work continues to receive 2021 registration and beyond for XtendiMax. Bayer officials are very hopeful that XtendiMax will be available for the coming growing season.
“We believe that EPA has the data and even new tools to provide a new XtendiMax registration in a timely manner,” Zenteno concluded.