Commercial introduction of cultivars of soybean and cotton genetically modified with resistance to the synthetic auxin herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D will allow these compounds to be used with greater flexibility but may expose susceptible soybean and cotton cultivars to nontarget herbicide drift. From past experience, it is well known that soybean and cotton are both highly sensitive to low-dose exposures of dicamba and 2,4-D. In this study, a meta-analysis approach was used to synthesize data from over seven decades of simulated drift experiments in which investigators treated soybean and cotton with low doses of dicamba and 2,4-D and measured the resulting yields. These data were used to produce global dose–response curves for each crop and herbicide, with crop yield plotted against herbicide dose. The meta-analysis showed that soybean is more susceptible to dicamba in the flowering stage and relatively tolerant to 2,4-D at all growth stages. Conversely, cotton is tolerant to dicamba but extremely sensitive to 2,4-D, especially in the vegetative and preflowering squaring stages. Both crops are highly variable in their responses to synthetic auxin herbicide exposure, with soil moisture and air temperature at the time of exposure identified as key factors. Visual injury symptoms, especially during vegetative stages, are not predictive of final yield loss. Global dose–response curves generated by this meta-analysis can inform guidelines for herbicide applications and provide producers and agricultural professionals with a benchmark of the mean and range of crop yield loss that can be expected from drift or other nontarget exposures to 2,4-D or dicamba.
Nomenclature: 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid); dicamba (3,6-dichloro-2-methoxy benzoic acid); glyphosate; soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merr.; cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L.