Chief Technology Director for Monsanto Robb Fraley travelled to farms in Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois and South Dakota to talk directly to farmers about the company’s new Xtend and Xtendimax technologies.
Fraley said the vast majority of farmers he visited who had planted Xtend beans and cotton and used the approved, over-the-top Xtendimax and Engenia formulations had a great experience. However, Fraley did see some fields with clear leaf-cupping symptomatology.
“I saw some fields with clear symptomatology, especially in Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. And I understand why those farmers are frustrated and looking for answers,” Fraley said. “When I say symptoms, I mean leaf cupping – which can be caused by a variety of factors including: weather, disease, certain environmental conditions and a variety of crop protection products, including Dicamba.”
Fraley also said misdiagnosis of these symptoms can be a real problem.
“This is an incredibly complex issue, and reacting based on speculation could actually end up doing more harm than good for farmers,” Fraley said. “There are a lot of possible causes, but our goal is not to speculate. We need to gather the facts as quickly as possible, and that’s why I went to see farmers.”
Most of the fields Fraley saw showing symptomatology of leaf cupping looked to be in the recovery phase, and should produce normal yields. During his travels, several farmers commented on the high use of older, generic Dicamba products.
“In certain areas, they speculated that off-label use could approach 25 percent of the applications,” Fraley said. “Many noted the sales of these products spiked this year, despite the fact that corn and wheat acres were down. The extent of the off-label product use was surprising to me, and very troubling. It’s also illegal. We know the vast majority of farmers are doing the right thing, but it’s clear that a few bad actors can make the situation worse for everyone.”
Monsanto applauded the actions of the Departments of Agriculture in Missouri and Tennessee, for banning the use of older, generic Dicamba products and increasing the fines for off-label use.