BOISE — Idaho dry bean industry leaders are hopeful that a discontinued herbicide that proved helpful in controlling nightshade could be back on the market soon.
The Idaho Bean Commission sent a letter to Gowan Seed Co. in late January asking the company to reintroduce Eptam 20G, the granular form of a herbicide effective in controlling nightshade in bean fields.
The company still produces a liquid form of the herbicide known as Eptam 7E but its residual effect is much shorter-lived than Eptam 20G, said IBC member Don Tolmie.
Because Eptam 20G’s residual activity lasts much longer, it can be applied during planting and avoid the plant-back restrictions that some other herbicides have, the IBC letter states.
“The nightshade problem in Idaho and the Northwest is the most important economic factor facing dry bean producers today,” the letter adds. “While the market for Eptam 20G is relatively small when compared to other markets, the positive impact on our growers and warehouses is immeasurable.”
Eptam 20G hasn’t been available to growers for almost four years and the industry’s struggles with nightshade are increasing, said Tolmie, production manger for Treasure Valley Seed Co. in Homedale, Idaho.
A recent survey of Idaho dry bean growers found their top research priority is finding ways to combat nightshade.
The weed can stain commercial beans, reducing their marketability, and even the presence of one nightshade seed in a lot of dry bean seed can result in it not being certified as disease-free.
A production manager from Gowan responded to the IBC’s letter via email on Feb. 10. He said the company has received a few requests to bring the product back since it was removed from the market and added, “This year the interest appears to be a bit broader than in the past.”
“I am looking into the feasibility of bringing Eptam 20G back in limited runs, but cannot promise its return at this point,” the email stated. “I will keep our Gowan sales team informed, who in turn will be apprising your members of the status.”
Tolmie said he believes the industry’s request has a good chance of succeeding and not necessarily because of the economic benefit it will bring Gowan.
“I’m pretty hopeful the company will look on that request favorably,” he said. “The good will that it would generate among growers would probably be as much as the dollar value that the company would gain from bringing it back.”
Tolmie also pointed out that the product has already been approved. “All it would have to do is go back into production.”