ABERDEEN, S.D. — Some farmers in the northeast region of South Dakota have been complaining about a drifting herbicide that they say is damaging their soybean crops.

Tom Gere, agronomy services manager with the department, told the Aberdeen American News the herbicide is called dicamba. Gere said three approved products are used to keep weeds at bay for dicamba-tolerant soybeans, which make up about 25 percent of the beans planted in the state this year.

South Dakota State University Extension specialist Gared Shaffer said the herbicide selectively kills broad-leafed weeds but also can damage or kill legumes.

“We’re getting a lot of phone calls,” Gere said. “I don’t know what the count is, but yesterday I fielded quite a few phone calls from growers in regard to dicamba.”

Gere said the department is investigating the crop damage, and whether chemicals have been applied incorrectly. The probe could take several more weeks.

Shaffer said there have been cases of dicamba-related crop damage this year confirmed by tissue sampling, but he said that doesn’t mean a producer should immediately conclude that their neighbor’s drifting dicamba is the reason.

Even if there is evidence that dicamba drift has damaged someone’s crop, the state can’t do much to help the producer.

“As far as recouping any costs, the Department of Agriculture doesn’t play a role in that. We just investigate if any of the pesticide applications have been violated,” Gere said. “We encourage the person issuing the complaint to talk to the local retailer before we start doing an investigation. The lab has been getting all kinds of samples in from not only south Dakota, but Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.”

Crop insurance also wouldn’t cover the damage, according to information from Insurance Plus in Aberdeen. Farmer liability insurance might if the cause of the damage can be pinpointed.

Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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