WILDER, Idaho — Gowan Co. has agreed to resume producing a herbicide that many Idaho bean growers say is their best tool for controlling the troublesome nightshade weed.
But Gowan’s plans are contingent on a commitment from Idaho’s dry bean industry to purchase Eptam 20G, a granular version of the company’s Eptam product.
Because Eptam 20G contains a lot of clay and is bulky, the company does not want to store it. And chemical distributors are hesitant to purchase it until they know for sure there is grower demand.
“No one wants to agree to retail it or distribute it until they know what the demand is,” said Idaho Bean Commission Administrator Lacey Menasco. “There needs to be a strong outcry of need for this product so a distributor will want to take it on as a sales product.”
The IBC asked Gowan in January to resume producing the product, which was discontinued in 2008.
Gowan officials told IBC members they would produce what they estimate to be a two-year supply of Eptam 20G for Idaho bean growers if the industry can prove farmers would use enough for at least 30,000 acres.
The company needs an answer by early July.
“Gowan wants a commitment … to prove that we have that many acres and will use it up in two years or that the dealers are willing to buy and store it,” Menasco said.
It’s now up to farmers to prove they will purchase it, said incoming IBC Administrator Andi Woolf.
She said growers who want to use the product should immediately contact their chemical company, warehouse or the bean commission
“It’s in the growers’ hands now,” Woolf said. “We need a grassroots efforts on their part to speak up. If we don’t have an outcry from the growers for the product, it’s done.”
Ken Ray, Gowan’s product manager for Eptam, confirmed
the company has agreed to produce the herbicide if the industry can prove the demand.
“We have to have a volume commitment by a specific date to be able to do it,” he said. “This is contingent upon support from the growers and dealers on up.”
Gowan officials will meet with industry representatives again in Idaho on July 9 to try to hammer out final details.
Idaho bean growers say Eptam 20G provides longer suppression of nightshade than Eptam 7E, the liquid version of the herbicide.
Nightshade costs the Idaho dry bean industry about $8 million a year, according to a recent grower survey.
Bean farmer and IBC member Mike Goodson, who spent $250 an acre on hand crews to get rid of nightshade in his fields last year, said there needs to be an industry wide outcry for the product before the July 9 meeting.
“I think the ball is in the industry’s court now,” he said.