I am asked a lot if there will ever be an aerial label for Command. Anything I say about this could be controversial, but since this is sort of a slow time of the year - why not?

As a short answer, it is easy to say that "ever" is a long time. I do not know for sure if there will ever be an aerial label for Command. What everybody really wants to know is will there be one for 2001? I sure don't know that. There isn't even a federal Command label yet.

Once labeled, adding an aerial label would have to take place through the EPA and/or the Arkansas State Plant Board with the blessing of the company. I do know the company is extremely cautious about it because of negative publicity that can occur from white off-target vegetation.

I can tell you what we have done this year and some of my philosophy. Dennis Gardisser, our application engineer, and I got permission to apply Command by air on three rice fields on an experimental basis. I would never have considered trying it if I had not been so surprised by the general lack of off-target movement of Command by ground application in 1999 and 2000.

We had the Command applied to three fields - a 90-acre field and two approximately 60-acre fields - three mornings in a row. The morning we flew the 90-acre field, it was windy enough that we almost backed out because there were pecan trees about a quarter mile downwind. The other two mornings it was relatively calm. Dennis was extremely pleased with his drift collection information. I was pleased with the herbicide performance.

We got a slight amount of whitening in the pecan trees from the first day, but no white even on the field borders the next two days.

From the beginning with Command in rice, we have assumed everything that would happen would be bad. That has not turned out to be the case.

A lot of people have assumed that if we ever put any in an airplane, we would turn the whole state white. There is no question that the white-out problems we had with the old Command formulations were due to volatility, not drift. Therefore, if you can apply it without drifting it, whether by air or ground, there won't be a problem.

There can be some definite advantages to aerial application of Command - some of which I never thought I would be saying two years ago. Two years ago, I was totally on the ground-application-only bandwagon. However, being able to cross the field with an airplane after levee formation allows for a much wider window of application. This can allow the choice of better application conditions than may be had with a ground rig if only one or two days are available for the treatment.

It can also be possible in odd-shaped fields for an airplane to do a much better job of feathering overlays and double-ups that are causing so much problem with ground applications. I could list other advantages, but most are obvious to anyone wanting to apply Command by air.

The down side of the issue is someone who does something dumb applying Command by air can cause more problems than someone doing something equally dumb with a ground rig (and there have been some of those). I believe if everyone kept their head on straight, there could be a place for the aerial application of Command. It will not fit every field.

Yes, sometimes drift will occur, but that is happening now with ground rigs. Command drift will turn things white, but the drift of other herbicides applied to the same field can cause other types of injury which can often be worse.

For there to be a chance for an air label, there will have to be some firmly stated guidelines on aircraft set up and perhaps other things. I can't promise you it will happen. I see both sides of the issue. I won't be making the decision, but may have some input. I think I can promise you that there will be a lot of discussion about the issue.

AGRICULTURE SECRETARY Dan Glickman has declared 21 counties in Arkansas disaster areas due to the flooding, high winds, hail and tornadoes that occurred from May 24 through June 6.

The designation makes qualified family-sized farm operators in the counties eligible for low-interest emergency loans from USDA. Eligible farmers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for the loans to help cover part of their losses.

"The state of Arkansas suffered tremendous agricultural losses this year," said Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark. "I am very gratified that Secretary Glickman saw fit to offer relief. I'm still pushing for USDA to provide drought-related assistance for affected areas in the First Congressional District."

The counties in the primary disaster area declared by Glickman are Baxter, Clay, Greene, Independence, Izard, Lawrence, Marion, Sharp and White.

Twelve additional counties were named contiguous disaster areas and qualify for some assistance. Those are Boone, Cleburne, Craighead, Faulkner, Fulton, Jackson, Lonoke, Prairie, Randolph, Searcy, Stone and Woodruff.