Charlie Cahoon NCSU North Carolina State University
Charlie Cahoon grew up on a row crop, vegetable and hog farm near Swan Quarter in the Blacklands, attending the Blackland Farm Managers Tour as a boy.

North Carolina dicamba complaints hold steady

“You need to be on the lookout when making auxin applications around tobacco and vegetables. You can’t afford to buy many specialty crop acres."

In his first Blackland Farm Managers Tour as North Carolina State Extension weed specialist, Dr. Charlie Cahoon addressed off-target injury from dicamba and 2, 4-D.

As the Aug. 1 field day was held, Cahoon said there have been eight official off-target dicamba drift complaints filed with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, including three to soybeans, two to grapes, one to tomatoes and two on tobacco.

When it comes to dicamba drift complaints, Cahoon notes that North Carolina is about in the same situation as it was last year at this time. He said the mandatory dicamba training held this winter has been effective in educating growers on stewardship, but he said the issues involving damage to specialty crops such as tobacco and vegetables is still unacceptable.

“You need to be on the lookout when making auxin applications around tobacco and vegetables.  You can’t afford to buy many specialty crop acres,” Cahoon told the Blackland crowd.

Cahoon also emphasized the importance of communication in avoiding complaints. “Y’all do a great job working things out on the turn row after an event has occurred. A more proactive approach would be to communicate with your neighbors before spraying.  This would solve many of our issues”.

While there are only eight official dicamba drift complaints with NCDACS so far, Cahoon said he and Dr. Wes Everman, N.C. State Extension weed specialist for small grains and soybeans, have heard reports of ten to 12 dicamba complaints to soybeans on 500 to 1,000 acres in the state; one complaint of dicamba to cotton on about 25 acres; and six complaints of 2, 4-D damage to cotton totaling 250 acres.

The challenge is that the situation across the nation is direr.  Cahoon notes that Dr. Kevin Bradley with the University of Missouri estimates that dicamba damage to soybeans totals 1.1 million acres across the nation.

“If you look at North Carolina, I think we have been good stewards outside of the issues on tobacco and specialty crops. Again, we need to have a zero-tolerance policy for these crops. But overall, I think we have been good stewards in North Carolina and deserve to keep it,” he said.

Also, at the tour, Everman discussed the ongoing challenge of herbicide-resistant common ragweed, Palmer amaranth, horseweed and Italian ryegrass in North Carolina. He urged soybean farmers to be conscientious in rotating technologies between Liberty Link, Xtend and Enlist.

“If we are going to hold onto these technologies and avoid resistance, we are going to have to switch things up. Think about where you can switch from an Xtend bean to a Liberty Link Bean to an Enlist bean. Make sure you are switching these year to year, crop to crop, and keeping the weeds guessing,” Everman said.

“We’ve already seen that we can develop resistance to 2, 4-D as well as dicamba in different lab or field situations out in the Midwest. It can happen. We don’t know how long it will take, but the longer we can delay it, the better off we will be,” he said.

This year’s Blackland Farm Managers Tour held at 3B Farms in Pinetown, N.C. represented a homecoming for Cahoon.

Cahoon grew up on a row crop, vegetable and hog farm near Swan Quarter in the Blacklands, attending the Blackland Farm Managers Tour as a boy. In fact, the tour helped spark his interest in studying agriculture. Cahoon earned his B.S. in agronomy in 2011 and Ph.D. degree in crop science with an emphasis on weed science in 2015 from N.C. State. He has been on the job at his alma matter since March, after working as an Extension weed specialist for row crops and vegetables at Virginia Tech’s Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

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