The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an approval process that includes a public comment period for new tech. Farmers may have heard that on April 1, the agency opened the public comment period for in-crop use of dicamba on Monsanto's newest technologies - Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans.
The two crop technologies have been available for farmers to plant - cotton in 2015, and soybeans for 2016 - but neither crop can make use of one key advancement: the ability to apply dicamba over the top for enhanced weed control. The cotton launch was a limited commercial release, but for 2016 it's a full commercial launch. For soybeans, Monsanto announced its commercialization plans in February and the company's Asgrow, Channel and regional brands along with Corn States licensees, expect to introduce more than 70 soybeans products across eight maturity groups with agronomic traits including resistance to nematodes and phytophthora root rot.
The technology has been broadly licensed to more than 100 seed brands too.
Minnesota Soybean Growers Association urges caution
As the public comment period goes on for in-crop use of dicamba, one group - the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association - has issued a release cautioning the state's farmers against planting the crop. The association notes that no dicamba herbicide product is currently labeled for application on soybeans in Minnesota, which if done would be illegal, the group says.
The group acknowledges the 30-day comment period on the move to allow in-crop use of dicamba, but ads that the label mostly likely be released by EPA sometime in the fall "far too late to utilize this form of dicamba for weed control in this growing season," the group says.
Adds Paul Freeman, president, MSGA: "MSGA fully supports these products from Monsanto and Pioneer. The addition of this emergent technology to the toolbox will undoubtedly help farmers one day. At this time, however, there is no chemical application for dicamba for these traits, and there is no trait approval for these soybeans in Europe."
No dicamba can be sprayed over the top
Right now it is a violation of federal and state law to make an in-crop application of any dicamba herbicide product on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans or Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton so no dicamba product is currently approved for those uses.
Kim Magin, Monsanto's director of industry affairs, notes in a media release: "Stakeholder comments will really make a difference. Supportive letters are important for regulators to understand the various perspective from farmers and agricultural stakeholders."
Dicamba has been available for decades and is used in the U.S. and 25 other countries, wheat, fallow and pasture land, conservation tillage acres, as well as homeowner uses. Following final approvals, farmers will be able to use dicamba in-crop with soybean tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate and with cotton tolerant to dicamba, glyphosate and glufosinate.
According to Monsanto, in December 2014 USDA concluded its assessment of the technology in cotton and soybeans and authorized those crops for unrestricted commercial planting. Before reaching that decision, the agency considered nearly 5,000 comments submitted by farmers, academic an scientific experts and other key stakeholders.
Europe an issue
The second issue from MSGA: the product is not officially approved in Europe is another concern for MSGA, which points out that the EU has not authorized import of the new tech. The organization says Monsanto representatives have state the EU has verbally acknowledged authorization, "yet written formal authorization has not been obtained."
Freeman adds that several farmers are saying their elevators and processors have said they will not accept dicamba-tolerant soybeans. "While these traits are for sale in Minnesota, growers of the dicamba-tolerant soybeans may have nowhere to sell these beans come fall. We encourage any farmer considering planting these traits in 2016 to fully consider the risks involved."
EPA is now accepting public comments for in-crop use of dicamba. Monsanto offers an online tool to aid stakeholders in writing and submitting a comment. Learn more at RoundupReadyPLUS.com/supportdicamba.
For more information on Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System visit RoundupReadyXtend.com.
Source: Monsanto, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association