This week MS Technologies announced it had more than 45 seed companies signed on as licensees in preparation to offer the Balance GT Soybean Performance System to the market. China approved the import of the technology earlier this year, capping the required regulatory approvals. However, U.S. EPA is still working on one key part of the system, registering Balance Bean herbicide for use on soybeans, pushing sales of the new-tech seed to 2018.
Farm Industry News talked to a licensee that was the latest to announce it had signed on to market the product - Stine Seed - to get some perspective on just what Balance GT means for the market.
David Thompson, national marketing and sales director, Stine, talked about the opportunity of Balance GT for farmers. He notes that the tech should be available for the 2018 planting season and Stine will have soybeans in maturities ranging from Group 0 to early Group 4 right out of the chute. Thompson adds that Stine was one of the first to market Liberty Link soybeans in 2009.
"We've worked with MS Technologies for some time," he says. Bayer developed the Liberty Link trait, but MS Technologies developed the soybean genetics that the trait went to market in.
This will be one of the few systems with a built-in residual as part of the weed control program. Balance Bean herbicide is the new version for this market. Balance herbicide has been on the market for some time, though it is one of the more recent active ingredient herbicides to be introduced to market.
"With this system you don't have to go out and bring in another residual product, and then you have the unique feature of reactivation that no other active ingredient that offers that. It extends the utility of that residual control," Thompson says.
From a management standpoint, the user would plant and apply the Balance Bean herbicide as a preemerge then follow up postemergence with glyphosate. "With the preemerge you're getting the weeds early. And a weed that doesn't emerge is easier to control," Thompson jokes.
Rolling out new tech
Stine Seed was an early flagship brand to carry the Liberty Link trait in its soybeans. "It took several years for that market to develop," Thompson recalls. "We weathered through some times when it wasn't that popular but the market came and it developed into a big product."
Of course the change was that Liberty Link soybeans came to market before glyphosate resistance became the news item it is today. Now Balance GT enters a savvy market where farmers are open to a range of new tech for herbicide-resistant weed management. "This market is going to be different now," Thompson says. "There's a lot of different tech out here."
Thompson sees two major benefits in being a licensee for Balance GT.
First, as a privately held company this tech is a discussion about choice. "We have access to a lot of different technology now and we can talk to the farmer about how they want to farm and what technology will fit," he says.
Second, growers are more amenable to looking at new technologies. "Ten years ago it wasn't easy for farmers to do that," Thompson says.
And while Stine Seed is enthusiastic about adding Balance GT to its portfolio for 2018, the company has its eye on the future. Balance GTLL - a stack that brings Liberty herbicide into the weed control mix for these soybeans is in development.
"Balance GT is a very different weed control program compared to other things in the portfolio," says Thompson. "Then you add the stack with Liberty, and growers love to work with Liberty, it offers opportunity."