By Brian Hefty

I hate dicamba. Wait. I love dicamba for weed control.

Are you going through this same debate? I know this may be difficult for you, depending on what you saw and how you felt in 2017, but please take the emotion out for a couple minutes, and let’s take a closer look at the dicamba debate.

The first thing to understand is a vast majority of the U.S. soybean acres will be Xtend (dicamba-tolerant) in 2018. There isn’t even close to enough planned production acre supply of LibertyLink beans to cover every single acre in the U.S. Plus, Xtend beans, on average, yield more than Roundup 2’s.

Second, whether you like dicamba or not, I think everyone can agree that dicamba is a chemistry that can and often does do a great job killing broadleaf weeds that are resistant to glyphosate and ALS herbicides. Resistant weed populations are rising quickly. Conventional broadleaf herbicides for soybeans are marginal at best at weed control, so something else is needed.

Unfortunately, Enlist (2,4-D-tolerant) soybeans aren’t approved in China yet, unless something just happened between the time I wrote this and when you read it. HPPD-tolerant soybeans aren’t an option yet either. The 3 Pre strategy we encourage you to use is actually great, but it won’t be able to hold 100% of the weeds season-long in most cases, even if you use a Group 15 herbicide as a fourth mode of action early post for added residual.

In the 20 years we have done Ag PhD TV, we have never had more questions on any one topic than we did on dicamba in 2017. We learned a lot in 2017, but we already knew a tremendous amount about dicamba, considering Banvel has been out since 1967, and Darren and I have been recommending dicamba on millions of acres over the last 3 decades.

Since last summer, there have been federal label changes. These include no night spraying, Restricted Use pesticide status, increased training and recordkeeping requirements, and no wind speeds over 10 mph. Also, there will be a lot more discussion around sprayer cleanout, as spray tank contamination created many of the problems we saw in 2017. There are also several states who are requiring additional steps beyond the federal label. What this tells us is that everyone in soybean production areas is concerned about dicamba use going forward.

Please attend a free Ag PhD AGRONOMY workshop this winter. If you are thinking about spraying dicamba on Xtend soybeans in 2018, it is absolutely possible to do it without hurting off-target crops. In addition to what the federal label and the state labels say, we have a few pieces of advice for you that we will share at these workshops. We can tell you exactly what you need to do so your neighbors aren’t affected AND so you can get the weed control you are looking for.