UGA Weed Specialist: We Can’t Do Anything but Thank the EPA

Clint Thompson Alabama, Cotton, Florida, Georgia, Soybeans

By Clint Thompson

Cotton and soybean farmers can rest easy, the Environmental Protection Agency has provided clarity on three dicamba products, which provides growers ample time to prepare for the 2021 growing season.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency press release, the EPA, which made the announcements in Florida and Georgia on Tuesday, approved new registrations for two “over-the-top” (OTT) dicamba products—XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology and Engenia Herbicide — and extended the registration for an additional OTT dicamba product, Tavium Plus VaporGrip Technology. These registrations are only for use on dicamba-tolerant (DT) cotton and soybeans and will expire in 2025, providing certainty to American agriculture for the upcoming growing season and beyond.

UGA Extension Weed Scientist Thankful

“We can’t do anything but thank the EPA because they worked so tirelessly to get this done as early as they did to help growers have the ability to make good decisions on seed purchases and on technology purchases for next year,” said University of Georgia Extension weed scientist Stanley Culpepper.


“Their respect for our science as well as science from other members of the Weed Science Society was evident as we were able to share our information with them. They treated us with the utmost respect.”

New Control Measures

All three registrations include new control measures to ensure these products can be used effectively while protecting the environment, including non-target plants, animals, and other crops not tolerant to dicamba.

“These systems allow us to control our two most problematic pests identified by 737 growers in a recent survey and that’s Palmer amaranth, that’s No. 1 by far and away and morning glory No. 2. These tools are very critical for our farms to be able to control these problematic pests. Getting registration is obviously a big deal for our growers to have these tools available for them,” Culpepper said.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency press release, to manage off-site movement of dicamba, EPA’s 2020 registration features important control measures, including:

  • Requiring an approved pH-buffering agent (also called a Volatility Reduction Agent or VRA) be tank mixed with OTT dicamba products prior to all applications to control volatility.
  • Requiring a downwind buffer of 240 feet and 310 feet in areas where listed species are located.
  • Prohibiting OTT application of dicamba on soybeans after June 30 and cotton after July 30.
  • Simplifying the label and use directions so that growers can more easily determine when and how to properly apply dicamba.

Court Ruling

The uncertainty regarding the future use of these three products stemmed from a ruling this summer from a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco. It overturned EPA’s approval of the use of dicamba, which is a weed killer used on millions of acres of soybean and cotton crops. It’s also instrumental in management of palmer amaranth.

Thanks to the EPA, growers and commercial applicators were able to use existing stocks that were in their possession on June 3, 2020. This was the effective date of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision to vacate dicamba registrations. They could use their stocks for this season up until July 31.