Dicamba’s Status As EPA Scrambles – It’s Complicated – DTN

Photo: Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

Photo: Debra L Ferguson Stock Photography

As the fall seed-buying season advances, EPA is facing a major time crunch on its dicamba herbicide decisions.

The agency had originally vowed to have a re-registration decision for four dicamba herbicides — Tavium (Syngenta), Engenia (BASF), XtendiMax (Bayer) and FeXapan (Corteva) — settled by early fall so farmers could buy their corresponding dicamba-tolerant seed with the certainty of in-season weed control options.

All four herbicides were set to expire in December 2020, but when a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling vacated all but one of those herbicides, EPA’s timeline was thrown into disarray.

The agency is now in the process of reviewing new products and new registration applications for two of those herbicides — Engenia and Xtendimax — while also still doing its planned re-registration review of Tavium. (FeXapan is the same formulation as XtendiMax, so any future registrations of it depend upon a successful XtendiMax registration, Corteva has informed DTN.)

The situation has caused uncertainty for growers considering dicamba-tolerant seed purchases for use in 2021, prompting one company, Bayer, to offer a new “Plant with Confidence” program to offset that financial risk for farmers.

DTN caught up with these herbicide registrants to get the latest details on what is in front of EPA right now, as well as how Bayer’s new program works.

1. XTENDIMAX + VOLATILITY-REDUCING AGENT

Bayer has submitted the same formulation of XtendiMax for registration and use in 2021, Bayer Dicamba Product Manager Alex Zenteno confirmed. The company also submitted a suite of data on the herbicide’s performance and safety from both internal and third-party testing in 2019 and 2020, she said.

Bayer is also submitting a new product for use with XtendiMax. The product doesn’t have a brand name yet, but it is a volatility-reducing agent, Zenteno said. Bayer is working with multiple academic cooperators to test the new product, and they’re also interested in any other research and products that address volatility reduction of dicamba, Zenteno said.

“Any product that would further improve the Xtend system, regardless of ownership, we are interested in,” she said.

2. ENGENIA, ENGENIA PRIME AND SENTRIS

BASF is also submitting its previous formulation of Engenia for a new registration, along with its own new volatility-reducing spray additive called Sentris, said Scott Kay, vice president of U.S. crop protection for BASF.

“It’s a buffering agent that, when sprayed or tank mixed, will help to lower volatility and also help with pH,” said Kay.

The company has also submitted a separate registration for a new pre-mix herbicide called Engenia Prime. It is a three-way mix of Engenia (dicamba — Group 4), Zidua (pyroxasulfone — Group 15) and Pursuit (imazethapyr — Group 2).

“We’re positioning it for early season weed control — preemergence to early post-emergence,” Kay said. “We know farmers need to spray weeds when they are 4 inches or less in size.” The product will have a cutoff date somewhere in early reproductive stages, he said.

3. TAVIUM WAITING ON RE-REGISTRATION

Syngenta’s Tavium herbicide, labeled for use on dicamba-tolerant crops up through the V4 stage in soybeans and 6-leaf stage in cotton, is a premix of dicamba (Group 4) and s-metolachlor (Group 15).

Although Tavium is designed for use in dicamba-tolerant crops, its registration was separate from the three other over-the-top dicamba herbicides and was not immediately affected by the Ninth Circuit ruling.

The herbicide is set to expire on Dec. 20, 2020, and is under review by EPA for re-registration for 2021. (See the current label here: here.)

“Syngenta is actively working with the EPA to get a timely re-registration of Tavium for the 2021 season,” said Bobby Bachman, product marketing lead for soybean herbicides for Syngenta.

BAYER’S PLANT WITH CONFIDENCE PROGRAM

Bayer is marketing its RR2 Xtend soybeans for use in 2021, as well as XtendFlex cotton and soybeans, which tolerate dicamba, glyphosate and glufosinate (Liberty).

While the company is still waiting on a final import approval from the EU for the XtendFlex soybean trait, it is preparing for a commercial launch of the trait in 2021 of up to 20 million acres, roughly half the current footprint of Xtend soybeans in the U.S.

But without current labels for OTT dicamba herbicides, growers don’t know whether they will be able to use dicamba on Xtend acres in 2021, Zenteno noted. So the company is offering to reimburse growers for the following seed purchases if XtendiMax or another over-the-top dicamba formulation is not available for use by Feb. 20, 2021:

  • $7 per unit price reduction on RR2 Xtend soybeans.
  • $3 per unit price reduction on XtendFlex soybeans (if they are commercially available for 2021).
  • $40 per unit price reduction on XtendFlex cotton.

Not all seed brands are cooperating with this guarantee, so growers who are interested should consult Bayer’s website for more details.

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

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee

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