Last year, when illegal usage of the drift-prone herbicide dicamba was blamed for widespread crop damage across southeastern Missouri and other states, many expressed hope that the problem would diminish in future growing seasons, with proper forms of the herbicide gaining approval for use on crops engineered to tolerate the spray.
But that may have been wishful thinking, if the recent explosion of 242 cases of alleged dicamba misuse in Arkansas is any indication. Amid the snowballing number of complaints in the state, the Arkansas State Plant Board proposed an emergency ban of the chemical for in-crop use Friday.
Leading the way with 81 complaints is Mississippi County, Arkansas, which borders Missouri’s Bootheel, where most of the region’s cases were concentrated last year. Those in the Bootheel, meanwhile, are waiting to see if a similar crisis unfolds once again. The area’s growing season lags a bit behind that in Arkansas, and it wasn’t until late last June that local dicamba complaints began to surface.
But Kevin Bradley, a University of Missouri plant sciences professor who investigated much of last year’s damage, says he’s been fielding complaints of crop injury over the past couple of weeks, while the Missouri Department of Agriculture has received 60 reports of misuse so far, statewide. Last year, more than 120 cases of suspected drift were reported to Missouri officials.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch