USDA announced deregulation of the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans on Jan. 15, 2015.
USDA announced deregulation of Dow's Enlist corn, Enlist soybean and Enlist E3 soybean traits on Sept. 17, 2014.
Growers are eagerly awaiting the arrival of two new crop technologies in the near future.
Monsanto's Roundup Ready Xtend and Dow AgroSciences' Enlist Weed Control System promise crops with built-in herbicide tolerance to the companies' respective formulations of dicamba and 2,4-D. The younger generation of farmers probably won't have too much difficulty adapting to the new systems. They'll work very similarly to the Roundup Ready systems they grew up on.
However, more senior farmers probably remember a time when dicamba and 2,4-D were used somewhat interchangeably for a hotter mix on tough weeds. Susan Curvey, Monsanto technology development manager, notes growers will see disastrous results if these two chemistries are used in the wrong fields with Xtend or Enlist.
"The Xtend and Enlist trait systems do not mix," Curvey notes. "This is like when folks confused glufosinate and glyphosate. Don't make that mistake with this technology."
To clarify, only Dow's Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D technology, which includes their new patented formulation of 2,4-D choline premixed with glyphosate, is registered for use with Enlist crops.
Monsanto's RoundupReady Xtend with VaporGrip technology (a 30-ounce glyphosate to ½ pound of dicamba pre-mix) will be labeled for use on the corresponding products. Additionally, Curvey notes Xtendimax, a straight dicamba option without the glyphosate, will also be labeled for use. This allows the grower to apply one pound of dicamba per acre without the 60 ounces of glyphosate that would be included with the premix.
Monsanto promises a pre- and post-emergence option with Roundup Ready Xtend. According to various company reps, the residual activity is impressive on tough weeds.
With a labeled rate of up to one pound pre-emergence, Curvey notes their formulation of dicamba is quite flexible for full-season weed control. In post-emergence applications, the label allows for up to two passes of ½ pound per acre. That's up to two pounds of dicamba per year.
Additionally, Sara Allen, a Monsanto weed management technical development rep, notes dicamba needs only 1/10 of an inch of rain to activate. Allen also notes a sort of "weatherproofing" effect growers can obtain by tank-mixing dicamba with Valent's Valor (flumioxazin). Valor requires about ¾- to 1-inch of rain to activate. Mixing the two pretty well ensures weeds will have an active herbicide working in the soil, regardless of rainfall.
Still, Palmer amaranth and waterhemp earned their "super" weed status by being able to stand up to tough chemistries. As is the case with all weed management field days, the right timing was emphasized as part of the program. Allen notes these chemistries are effective if the weeds are sprayed at four inches of growth or less. Past that and all bets are off.
The most important question at any of these new crop technology field days is "when will these products be commercially available?"
Most remember last spring the USDA announced it would require an EIS for both Roundup Ready Xtend and Enlist. The USDA released the final EIS for Enlist corn and soybeans on Aug. 6. Pending regulatory approvals, Dow expects to launch Enlist corn and soybeans in 2015.
Monsanto industry affairs director Kim Magin notes Monsanto is still waiting for the public comment period to commence. It was supposed to begin Feb. 14, 2014. To date, it still hasn't been opened.
Monsanto hopes to have a draft for the Xtend label by late fall. This would push commercial launch to 2016. Monsanto is on the verge of the four-year mark in waiting for an approval from USDA. For comparison, Magin notes it took just 125 days for USDA to approve RoundupReady in 1996.
The other big component to both these cropping systems is an approval for importation by China. To date, neither Enlist or Xtend has been approved. If the approvals don't align, Monsanto and Dow will be faced with a tough decision. Can a major soybean product launch in the U.S. without Chinese approval?