By Illinois Radio Network/Cole Lauterbach
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Agriculture has walked back some restrictions on a controversial, yet highly-effective commercial weed spray as farmers struggle to get crops planted amid a wet spring.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced that it would expand the window of time farmers have to apply dicamba, the commercial name for dichloro methoxy benzoic acid, to allow application until July 15 rather than June 30.
The extension would only apply to farmers who planted soybeans after June 1, putting Illinois in line with a federal 45-day application limit enacted last year.
“Due to the extraordinary wet weather seen in this state during the spring planting season and with still over 50 percent of the soybean crop to be planted, the IDOA will extend the application date to apply dicamba until July 15,” Illinois Department of Agriculture Director John Sullivan said. “This decision was not taken lightly, however, farmers have been under intense pressure related to the extreme wet weather conditions and hopefully this decision will provide some relief.”
Sullivan was referring to the latest United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service report released this week showing less than half of the state’s soybean crop has been planted. Illinois is the nation’s largest soybean producer.
The state agency announced in February that it would tighten restrictions beyond what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required, citing growing complaints from farmers experiencing crop death from the product drifting over from nearby fields.
Minnesota, another state that imposed restrictions on dicamba, has yet to announce changes to that state’s window, which ends June 20.
The weed-killing product is mainly used on soybeans to control hard-to-kill broadleaf weeds that can lower soybean yields if not controlled.
The extension will not be official until the department approves certain product registration requests.
Other restrictions set by the state regarding dicamba spraying still apply.