Putting Yield On The Line

The use of dicamba in-crop proves very important for brothers farming soybeans in both Arkansas and Missouri

The ability to spray dicamba in-crop is important for achieving weed control in the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System, and what happened in 2018 at DaVault Farms (headquartered in Paragould, Arkansas) is a perfect example of why it is so crucial.

Brad and David DaVault, Paragould, Arkansas

Brothers Brad, 35, and David, 33, are the fourth generation of their family to be involved in the operation, which began in Missouri with their great-grandfather. Today, the farm includes 7,500 acres across Greene County, Arkansas, and Dunklin County, Missouri. The brothers, with their father, Mike, raise soybeans, corn and rice.

Last season, Arkansas had a dicamba application cutoff date of April 15. Missouri's was extended to June 10. The DaVaults planted Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans on 3,000 acres in Arkansas and on 1,500 acres in Missouri.

"We really like the yield in Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, but in Arkansas last season, because of the cutoff date for dicamba spraying of April 15, we were not going to be able to spray dicamba in the crop," recalls Brad. "We were willing to chance it and try to keep the crop clean with overlapping residuals and get the yield performance we know these soybeans can deliver."

Planting did not begin until April 15 in many Arkansas fields, where they were forced to rely on glyphosate and overlapping residual herbicides. Due to an early dry spell, there was little moisture available to activate residual herbicides. They turned to spraying Gramoxone® herbicide between the rows using a hooded sprayer. Many fields required manual labor to pull weeds.

"I lost sleep thinking about what we were going to do if pigweeds broke through the residuals we had down in those Arkansas fields," says David. "They broke through, and we had to keep coming back with more residuals. We ran Gramoxone under hoods. We were still not getting the control we needed, and every time you apply another herbicide over the top or go through the young crop with equipment, you run the risk of damaging plants."

In Missouri, the brothers were able to maintain their normal herbicide program, which included pre-emerge residual herbicides and spraying XtendiMax® herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology, a restricted use pesticide, with Roundup PowerMAX® herbicide (plus an approved DRA) in-crop. The ability to use dicamba in-crop, versus not having the ability to do so because of an earlier cutoff date, was painfully apparent to the DaVault brothers.

DaVault Farms includes 7,500 acres across Greene County, Arkansas, and Dunklin County, Missouri

The DaVault brothers found that the cost to manage weeds in their Arkansas fields averaged $45.00 per acre more than in their Missouri fields, and weed control was much more difficult to achieve. In Missouri, fields had better weed control and costs were down. No chopping was required.

The ability to use XtendiMax with VaporGrip Technology in-crop is important in so many ways.

"The yield, weed control and cost and time associated with that are all related and all impact our bottom line," says David. "The Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System has helped us control weeds and control our costs, but the key part of that is having dicamba for postemergence application."

Big brother Brad is quick to add to that.

"We need dicamba," he states. "We need a postemergence product like XtendiMax [with VaporGrip Technology] to take out pigweed. We saw last year in Arkansas that we cannot rely on residual herbicides alone; we need dicamba for postemergence use. Last year, driving down roads, you saw clean fields in Missouri and fields with pigweed problems in Arkansas. That is directly related to not being able to spray dicamba in-crop in Arkansas."

For 2019, the state of Arkansas set a dicamba cutoff date of May 25. The state of Missouri elected to go with the EPA-labeled 45 days after soybean planting. While the DaVault brothers would have liked to have the 45 days after planting rule in effect for Arkansas, at least they had more of a spraying window and could create a herbicide plan to stick with.

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