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Friday, March 5, 2021  
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AR Eyes Dicamba Rule Change   03/04 13:35

   Arkansas Regulators Move Toward Enacting Later Dicamba Cutoff

   The Arkansas State Plant Board has voted to consider using the federal 
dicamba cutoff dates this season, in a sudden reversal of the May 25 cutoff 
date the board approved in December. 

Emily Unglesbee
DTN Staff Reporter

   ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- The Arkansas State Plant Board voted Wednesday, 
March 4, in favor of a new rule to adopt the EPA's federal dicamba cutoff dates 
for over-the-top dicamba use in the state in 2021.

   While procedural hurdles remain, the decision is a stark reversal from the 
board's previous vote in December 2020 to keep its May 25 dicamba cutoff date, 
which has been in place for three years. That cutoff date remains in place for 
now while the proposed new rule goes through the state's rulemaking 

   The surprising reversal hinged on a membership change that occurred on the 
plant board this winter, Terry Fuller, chairman of the plant board, told DTN.

   The member who left the board, Russell Bragg, represented the Arkansas Feed 
Manufacturers Association and had voted to approve the May 25 ban. The new 
member installed, Terry Stephenson, representing the Arkansas Oil Marketers 
Association, voted the opposite on Thursday, when a petition for rulemaking was 
brought in front of the board, asking it to scrap the old dicamba restrictions 
and instead adopt the federal label restrictions. Those include a June 30 
cutoff date in soybeans and July 30 cutoff date in cotton for three herbicides: 
XtendiMax, Engenia and Tavium.

   The petition was brought by an Arkansas crop consultant, Tyler Hydrick, who 
argued that Arkansas' May 25 cutoff and other restrictions on dicamba use make 
it too difficult for the state's farmers to control weeds, particularly Palmer 

   This time, in an 8-7 vote, the plant board approved the petition. The 
proposed new rule would also remove all other restrictions that have been in 
place in the past in Arkansas, such as buffers to protect ag research stations 
and organic and specialty crops and a ban on tank mixing dicamba with 
glyphosate, which research shows increases volatility.

   The petition now goes to the governor for signing, and then on to a 30-day 
public comment period, which is likely to trigger a public hearing, Fuller 
said. "Only 12 comments are required to trigger a public hearing," he said. The 
plant board will have another chance to vote on the proposed rule after the 
public hearing, before it is sent to a legislative committee for finalization.

   The entire process is likely to take at least 45 to 60 days, Fuller 
predicted, which will push uncertainty over dicamba use in the state into the 
spray season and near the current May 25 ban.

   Arkansas has had the nation's most restrictive dicamba cutoff date since 
2017, when the plant board received more than 1,000 complaints of off-target 
dicamba injury in the first year dicamba herbicides were used in season on 
Xtend crops. After using its emergency powers to halt spraying that year, the 
plant board went on to impose spring cutoff dates in May for dicamba use from 
2018 onward. Since then, formal dicamba injury complaints have fallen and 
remained steady at about 200 reports per year.

   Arkansas is not the only state that has instituted more restrictive rules 
for dicamba use than the federal labels. See the most recent list of 
state-by-state restrictions here: 

   See the petition for new Arkansas dicamba rules here: 

   Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com.

   Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee.

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