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Enlist Herbicide Heartburn
By Emily Unglesbee
Friday, January 14, 2022 12:50PM CST

ROCKVILLE, Md. (DTN) -- Ethan Zoerb has never seen an American burying beetle, but the insect is threatening to bury his soybean plans for 2022. Two Nebraska counties where he and his father, Dale, farm are among those prohibited from using Corteva's Enlist herbicides next year to protect the endangered beetle, according to new labels issued on Jan. 11 by the EPA.

"We've had this bomb dropped on us that Enlist won't be available in Custer or Sherman -- the two counties where most of our acreage is located," Zoerb explained. "It leaves us without many options for soybean weed control."

In total, the new label for Enlist Duo (2,4-D-choline-glyphosate premix) bans use of the product in 217 counties in 21 states, with the bulk falling in Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. Enlist One (2,4-D-choline only) is prohibited from use in 169 counties in 14 states, many of which overlap with Enlist Duo's banned counties. (See full lists of those counties printed at the end of this article. See DTN's story on the other label restrictions here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….)

In emailed statements issued to DTN by a Corteva spokesperson, the company said the county prohibitions were driven entirely by EPA's newly rigorous analysis of risks to endangered species, a process all registered pesticides will soon undergo to fulfill the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The statement added that Corteva had not seen the finalized labels until Jan. 11 and that the company is working to provide data to EPA that could roll back some of these prohibitions:

"Corteva Agriscience has -- and continues to -- conduct studies and work to provide additional data to EPA to allow the agency to remove some of these geographic label restrictions while still ensuring protection of listed species and their habitats, consistent with the requirements of the ESA. It is possible that some county restrictions may be removed in the coming months, but it is too early to speculate."

The company also addressed the concerns of some farmers that -- according to EPA documents supporting the registration -- many of the banned counties were listed on a draft label submitted by Corteva to EPA back in May 2021.

In those documents, EPA states that Corteva did not submit 131 counties in 10 states for registration of the Enlist labels, in addition to the 29 counties in three states banned from use on the old 2017 Enlist labels. "... [O]n the 5/14/21 labels, Corteva voluntarily prohibited use in additional counties to protect the American Burying Beetle," the agency wrote.

In its statement, Corteva said this action was necessary to move forward with the process of amending the Enlist registrations, after the EPA's endangered species analysis raised concerns about these counties. The company always intended to produce new data to get those counties off the prohibited list but ran into the labels' Jan. 12, 2022, expiration date, Corteva said.

"The ultimate goal was -- and is -- for EPA to use those data for refinement of the risk assessment and reinstatement of these counties on the label," Corteva's statement read. "While the target was consistently for EPA to consider the data and refine the assessment prior to issuance of the amendment, the existing label was set to expire on Jan. 12, and it became no longer feasible for those steps to be accomplished prior to expiration and a timely amendment issued."

The situation has raised questions about why farmers, such as Zack Rendel, who farms in one of the affected counties, Ottawa, in northeastern Oklahoma, were allowed to buy Enlist seed in the fall of 2021, while these county prohibition negotiations were underway.

"Our argument is not to go ahead and let us spray this beetle," Rendel explained. "Our argument is that this was not communicated to us at all, zero, zip, nada."

Rendel ordered his Enlist E3 soybean seed in November of 2021 and paid for it in full in late December. But it wasn't until Jan. 12, 2022, when, through communications with a university weed scientist, he realized most counties in eastern Oklahoma were prohibited from using both Enlist herbicides.

"We shut down all our fieldwork, the whole farm," Rendel said. "And we started researching this."

After a series of frantic phone calls and texts, it became clear that none of Rendel's soybean seed dealers from Pioneer, Stine or AgriGold had any forewarning of these prohibitions, he said.

David Thompson, national marketing and sales director for Stine Seed, confirmed that the company only learned of the banned counties on Jan. 11, when the labels were released.

"Stine Seed Company was made aware of the Enlist One and Enlist Duo label changes this week when the labels were announced," Thompson wrote in an email to DTN. "We have been in contact with Corteva and received the news release and other guidance documents. With this, we are beginning the process of communicating to our team and our customers. We intend to work with each customer in those affected counties to find the weed control program that will work best for them."

For now, Rendel and his family are scrambling to figure out if they need to return their Enlist soybean seed and buy another type of herbicide-tolerant seed while taking a hit on missed early purchasing incentives and re-jiggering chemical purchases.

"I feel like the company threw us to the wolves because we farm a 'negligible amount' of acres," he said, referencing EPA's characterization of the affected counties. Switching to XtendFlex seed is not an easy solution for Rendel, since most soybeans in his region are planted close to or after the national dicamba use cutoff date of June 20, he said.

Options are similarly limited for Nebraska's Zoerb. "We made the decision to move away from Xtend technology and adopt Enlist mostly because the endangered species buffers for dicamba herbicides made application so difficult in Custer County," he explained.

And beyond the hassle of changing seed and chemical orders, Nebraska's Zoerb also wondered whether supply chain issues will now influence next steps. "We had no indication this was coming," he said. "Mostly I'm really tired of trying to make smart decisions and having regulations come out of nowhere made by those who don't seem to understand when or how we make decisions."

"I know we aren't the center of the universe on soybeans, but we do raise a lot of beans here, and they are important to our bottom line and rotations," Zoerb added.

Here is the current list of 217 counties where the use of Enlist Duo is prohibited:

ALABAMA: Covington.

ARIZONA: Yuma, Pinal or Pima counties in areas south of Interstate Highway 8 and west of U.S. Highway 85. In Yuma, Pinal, Maricopa, Pima, La Paz and Santa Cruz counties, do not

use GF3335 on land administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Park Service.

ARKANSAS: Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Little River, Logan, Montgomery, Polk, Scott, Sebastian, Sevier and Yell.

COLORADO: Weld.

FLORIDA: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jackson, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, and St. Lucie.

GEORGIA: Baker, Berrien, Brooks, Burke, Calhoun, Early, Irwin, Lee, Miller, Screven, Worth.

KANSAS: Chautauqua, Cherokee, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson.

LOUISIANA: Natchitoches.

MASSACHUSETTS: Nantucket.

MINNESOTA: Clay, Marshall, Polk, Redwood, Renville, Stearns.

NEBRASKA: Antelope, Blaine, Boone, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Custer, Dawson, Frontier, Furnas, Garfield, Gosper, Greeley, Hayes, Holt, Hooker, Howard, Keya Paha, Knox, Lincoln, Logan, Loup, McPherson, Merrick, Nance, Phelps, Red Willow, Rock, Sherman, Thomas, Valley and Wheeler.

NEW YORK: Genesee, Seneca, Wayne.

OHIO: Athens, Butler, Fairfield, Guernsey, Hamilton, Hocking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Vinton and Washington.

OKLAHOMA: Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Cleveland, Coal, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Garvin, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Kay, Latimer, Le Flore, Lincoln, Love, Marshall, Mayes, McClain, McCurtain, McIntosh, Murray, Muskogee, Noble, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Payne, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington.

PENNSYLVANIA: Adams, Berks, Chester, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lebanon and York.

RHODE ISLAND: Washington.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Orangeburg.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Bennett, Charles Mix, Gregory, Lyman, Mellette, Todd and Tripp.

TENNESSEE: Wilson.

TEXAS: Bastrop, Bell, Bowie, Burleson, Cameron, Colorado, Cooke, Fannin, Grayson, Hidalgo, Hill, Lamar, McLennan, Milam, Nueces, Red River, Refugio, Robertson, San Patricio, Victoria, Willacy and Williamson.

Here is the current list of counties where use of Enlist One is prohibited:

ARIZONA: Yuma, Pinal or Pima counties in areas south of Interstate Highway 8 and west of U.S. Highway 85. In Yuma, Pinal, Maricopa, Pima, La Paz and Santa Cruz counties, do not

use GF3335 on land administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Park Service.

ARKANSAS: Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Little River, Logan, Montgomery, Polk, Scott, Sebastian, Sevier and Yell.

COLORADO: Weld.

FLORIDA: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Polk, Sarasota and St. Lucie.

KANSAS: Chautauqua, Cherokee, Cowley, Elk, Greenwood, Labette, Montgomery, Neosho, Wilson and Woodson.

MASSACHUSETTS: Nantucket.

MISSOURI: Barton, Bates, Cedar, St. Clair and Vernon.

NEBRASKA: Antelope, Blaine, Boone, Boyd, Brown, Cherry, Custer, Dawson, Frontier, Furnas, Garfield, Gosper, Greeley, Hayes, Holt, Hooker, Howard, Keya Paha, Knox, Lincoln, Logan, Loup, McPherson, Merrick, Nance, Phelps, Red Willow, Rock, Sherman, Thomas, Valley and Wheeler.

OHIO: Athens, Butler, Fairfield, Guernsey, Hamilton, Hocking, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Vinton and Washington.

OKLAHOMA: Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Cleveland, Coal, Craig, Creek, Delaware, Garvin, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Kay, Latimer, Le Flore, Lincoln, Love, Marshall, Mayes, McClain, McCurtain, McIntosh, Murray, Muskogee, Noble, Nowata, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Osage, Ottawa, Pawnee, Payne, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Pushmataha, Rogers, Seminole, Sequoyah, Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington.

RHODE ISLAND: Washington.

SOUTH DAKOTA: Bennett, Charles Mix, Gregory, Lyman, Mellette, Todd and Tripp.

TENNESSEE: Wilson.

TEXAS: Bell, Bowie, Cameron, Cooke, Fannin, Grayson, Hidalgo, Hill, Lamar, McLennan, Nueces, Red River, San Patricio, Willacy and Williamson.

See the labels and EPA's supporting registration documents here: https://www.regulations.gov/….

See more details on the 2022 Enlist herbicide labels and their new restrictions from DTN here: https://www.dtnpf.com/….

DTN/Progressive Farmer Crops Technology Editor Pamela Smith contributed to this story.

Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.unglesbee@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @Emily_Unglesbee


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