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Missouri's Restrictions On Dicamba Herbicide 'A Tightrope Act' For Growers
By Eli Chen
 
Next June, growers in several counties located in Missouri's bootheel region will no longer be allowed to spray Engenia, BASF's dicamba-based pesticide.
 
The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it would ban the pesticide to protect farmers whose crops are vulnerable to damage from dicamba. The herbicide, intended to kill a notorious weed called pigweed, can be difficult to control.
 
State regulators and growers associations are trying to support farmers who use the herbicide on dicamba- resistant crops while also protecting farmers who don't use dicamba-resistent seeds.
 
A healthy soybean plant in a field in Sikeston, Missouri, next to a dicamba-damaged soybean plant. The state Department of Agriculture has decided to partially ban dicamba use next June.
 
Dicamba becomes a gas in hot weather and can drift for miles and damage sensitive crops. The chemical ruined approximately 325,000 acres of soybeans in Missouri during this year's growing season, according to plant scientists at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
 
The state could extend the new regulations to other dicamba products, including Monsanto's XtendiMax and DuPont's FeXapan. Some farmers and agriculture experts think that the new label represents a start to addressing damage from dicamba while others, particularly pesticide companies, oppose the cut-off dates. 
 
"It's definitely a tightrope act, making sure we're delivering for our farmers and working side by side with industry and regulatory partners at the same time," said Gary Wheeler, CEO of the Missouri Soybean Association.
 
"If a producer decides to use [dicamba-resistant seeds], it's his or her choice to use that product," Wheeler added. "And same goes for conventional [growers] to not use that product. So it's our job to make sure that those opportunities exist for both sides." 
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