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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


OSU Extension to Hold Herbicide Spray Drift Awareness Workshops

June 3, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio – New herbicide-resistant field crop cultivars will be hitting the market in a few years, and while that's good for corn and soybeans when it comes to weed management, it may be less so for more sensitive vegetable crops exposed to any spray drift.

Ohio State University Extension will be holding a series of free workshops this month to address grower concerns and bring farmers together for the purpose of increasing communication among neighbors.

"We wanted to launch a series of outreach and educational efforts to draw awareness to these new technologies and improve communication among producers," said Doug Doohan, an Ohio State University Extension fruit and vegetable specialist. "In addition, we want to open discussions to characterize the risks. If drift does occur, what crops would be most impacted, what are the injuries and how will that affect yields?"

Within the next three to four years, field crop cultivars with resistance to dicamba and 2,4-D herbicides are anticipated to hit the market. The new herbicide-resistant cultivars are intended to provide producers additional protection against weeds that glyphosate (commonly applied to Roundup Ready cultivars) can no longer control.

The concern, however, is that any spray drift from dicamba or 2,4-D herbicide applications could harm nearby vegetable crops that are sensitive to such chemical exposure. Such crops include grapes, tomatoes, peppers and cabbage.

"Dicamba and 2,4-D affect dicot plants. Dicots are a group of flowering plants whose seed typically has two embryonic leaves or cotyledons. Soybeans are dicots, and so are tomatoes and grapes. This new technology allows growers to use the herbicides on soybeans safely, but sensitive vegetable crops aren't afforded that protection," said Doohan, who also holds a research appointment with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. "With these new herbicide resistance traits being added to the Round-Up Ready cultivars, it's not unreasonable to assume that use of dicamba and 2,4-D will increase."

Doohan said that agricultural companies bringing dicamba and 2,4-D resistant cultivars to the market are aware of the impacts to more sensitive crops and are striving the better understand the potential risks.

"There are plans for more regulations surrounding the use of these new products," said Doohan. "For example, as part of the licensing agreement, producers who grow these cultivars will be required to apply a less volatile herbicide product. That should help to lower risk."

From OSU Extension's standpoint, building farmer-to-farmer relationships is important.

"When you have a vineyard or tomato farm surrounded by a soybean field, you have to take into account the human dimension," said Doohan. "We want to get farmers talking to each other."

The workshops, which will include vineyard cultural practices, will be held at the following dates and locations:

• June 15 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., The Winery at Otter Creek, 5291 Bennington Chapel Road, Johnstown, Ohio.

• June 17 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., Valley Vineyards, U.S. 22 and Ohio State Rt. 3, Morrow, Ohio.

• June 22 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., Dead Drop Vineyards, Seneca County, Ohio.

• June 24 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., OARDC Ashtabula Agricultural Research Station, 2625 South Ridge East, Kingsville, Ohio.

The information will also be shared at a viticulture workshop at OSU South Centers at Piketon, 1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, on August 13.

For more information or to register for the workshops, contact viticulturist outreach specialist Dave Scurlock at 330-263-3825 or e-mail Registration is encouraged prior to the workshop to reserve enough space and prepare a sufficient number of handouts. Please specify which workshop you will be attending.

An additional outreach tool available to producers and commercial pesticide applicators is Drift Watch ( Operated by Purdue University, the website illustrates sensitive crop fields via Google Map. Producers can also add their own fields to the database.

Candace Pollock
Doug Doohan