This is one of those good news/bad news articles. First, the good news is the EPA granted a temporary tolerance for Newpath, which would enable the Arkansas Plant Board to grant the 24-C we had all been hoping for. The bad news is, there is a problem.

There have been some official releases on this by now, but I will pass along what has been explained to me. Somewhere in the process of getting the clearances for Clearfield rice, someone either forgot about Canada or did not begin the registration process quickly enough in Canada. The Canadians say they cannot approve Clearfield rice in time for the 2001 growing season.

We ship rice to Canada, and the decision has been made to not go forward with the Clearfield production fields in 2001. As I understand it, seed production will continue in anticipation of everything being cleared up for 2002.

Also, as I understand it, the Clearfield rice isn't hung up in Canada because of a herbicide tolerance issue or because someone may have it confused with a GMO — which it is not.

Apparently, Clearfield corn, canola and wheat are already registered there. It apparently is just an issue of it being a trademarked crop that has to go through a special registration process.

The University of Arkansas and the Arkansas State Plant Board worked extremely hard to bring about the 24-C registration. I think we did our job well. This setback is a disappointment, but it does no good to point fingers or attempt to place blame.

Perhaps the registration in Canada should have been anticipated by BASF much earlier or perhaps the problem was unavoidable. It is just another example of the frustrations associated with getting new products to the market.

If there is a positive, it would be that it will allow the development of better varieties to get further along before the technology goes to the field. It will also allow us a better look at the outcrossing work we have in the greenhouse now and some of the things we have planned in the field this year.

On another subject, I am getting a lot of calls regarding a label for the application of Command on rice by aircraft. I can say at this time there will be no statewide aerial label. However, the Arkansas Plant Board, the University of Arkansas and FMC Corporation are still trying to work through a process to expand the research program we started on aerial application last year. Things right now are still in the draft stages.

I can say that whatever final form the project may take, it will likely please some and displease others. Our objective is simply to work through a process to evaluate the full potential of applying Command by air without causing a black eye to agriculture in Arkansas.

I can assure you that if we get the final details worked out, you will read about it here.


Ford Baldwin is an Arkansas Extension weed scientist.
e-mail: fbaldwin@uaex.edu