Three years ago the production of the specialty vegetable, turf and ornamental herbicide Dacthal[R] was discontinued by ISK Biosciences. This caused a great deal of concern among growers used to the many unique qualities of this widely used product. AMVAC, the manufacturer and marketer of Vapam[R], Dibrom[R], and Bidrin[R] whose corporate strategy is to acquire mature product lines from the large multinational companies, saw an opportunity to add a valuable herbicide to their growing portfolio of specialty products. Following an extended effort to acquire the business and develop a new source of production, AMVAC has announced that Dacthal will be available to U.S. growers early this year, once EPA completes its evaluation and approves the new manufacturing source.

Discovered by Diamond Alkali in the 50's Dacthal has continued to hold a unique place as an unusually effective pre-emergence herbicide for many specialty and minor crops. Some of the key benefits of Dacthal include its very broad spectrum activity with long residual control, minimizing the need for further weed control measures. In addition, it is used prior to weed emergence, which prevents weed competition with the crop, and it does so without damaging the crop. The combination of broad spectrum and residual, early weed control, fewer trips through the field and excellent crop safety, enable the grower to achieve maximum yields and quality.

Although the initial treatment cost of a Dacthal program is higher than other herbicides, the overall benefit of fewer additional treatments, lower application costs and generally higher yields normally works out in the grower's favor. This is even more apparent in high value crops where even a minimal reduction in yield or quality can have a major impact on a grower's economics. Add that to the peace of mind of having a reliable herbicide already applied prior to crop emergence, and a Dacthal program makes even more sense.

Over the past several years, growers have experimented with alternative herbicide programs as Dacthal supplies have became difficult to find.

Some, like vegetable Grower Donald Richardson who farms with his brothers in White Marsh MD feel that the return of Dacthal is critical to their ability to farm. Donald says "Dacthal is the only product there is for the crops we grow" "We have a standing purchase order for 1000lbs of Dacthal as soon as we can get it"

Growers in many areas have turned to their state Cooperative Extension Service to get help in working out alternative weed control programs but no comparable solutions are available for many of the crops in question.

Steve Fennimore, Extension Vegetable Weed Control Specialist at UC Davis, said "Dacthal is unique in that it is registered on so many vegetables and fills so many critical weed control needs such as in cole crops and green bunching onions. My colleagues and I have been trying to find a drop-in replacement for Dacthal" for the past several years without success. The return of Dacthal is certainly good news"

The process of reintroducing the product has already begun and growers should be able to obtain pricing from their suppliers by the middle to the end of January to help them plan their 2001 herbicide program.

Further information can be obtained by calling 1-888-GO-AMVAC or logging on to www.amvac-chemical.com