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4 things you should know about dicamba-tolerant soybeans

soybean field
LABEL IN LIMBO: New soybean varieties are being marketed this year with traits making them resistant to dicamba herbicide. But the herbicide hasn’t been approved yet by EPA to allow its use on soybeans preemergence or postemergence.
Herbicide labels haven't been approved yet, and many elevators won't take these soybeans.

Earlier this year Monsanto announced its commercial launch of soybean varieties that are resistant to dicamba and glyphosate. Monsanto made this announcement following China’s decision to approve the grain produced from these varieties for import. While this new technology, known as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, can be a useful tool for managing hard-to-control weeds in soybeans, especially weeds resistant to glyphosate and other herbicides, there is a problem.

“Dicamba is not yet approved for use on soybeans,” explains Mike Owen, an Iowa State University Extension weed scientist. “There are no labels approved yet for any dicamba-containing herbicide to be legally used on soybeans either at planting (preemergence) or after the soybean crop has emerged (postemergence). Furthermore, it’s uncertain whether federal and state labels will be granted in time to allow application of dicamba-containing products on these soybean varieties during the 2016 growing season.”

Applying dicamba to these beans would be breaking the law

Without approved labels, applying a dicamba-containing herbicide to these soybean varieties would be a violation of both state and federal law, Owen warns. Farmers need to realize that the trait is available in these designated soybean varieties but the herbicide product is not available.

Monsanto and many of its licensees are currently commercializing Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) soybeans. These beans are a new biotech variety tolerant to both dicamba and glyphosate herbicides. Farmers who may have ordered or taken delivery of RR2X seed for the 2016 growing season should be mindful of the following considerations as they head to the field this spring. The following information comes from the Iowa Soybean Association.

* EU approval not yet obtained. While RR2X soybeans have been approved for import into China and other major U.S. soy export markets, final approval in the European Union EU is expected soon but is still pending as of today.

* Some users are not accepting RR2X soybeans. Because RR2X soybeans still lack import approval into the EU (which is an important export market for U.S. soybeans and soybean meal), many grain elevators, soybean processors, and other first purchasers of soybeans have issued notices stating they will not accept RR2X if EU approval has not been received by harvest. Therefore, farmers should contact their seed dealer/retailer with any questions about delivery of RR2X soybeans or potential exchange for other soybean seed that meets grower needs.

* Status of approval in major export markets. While final approval by the EU Commission has been anticipated for the past few months (and is expected before harvest), the OK is not guaranteed. The American Soybean Association (ASA), U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC), Monsanto and others have been working with both EU and U.S. government officials to press for approval of RR2X and other pending new biotech soybean traits.

 Chinese import approval of RR2X soybeans was obtained in February, and approvals in other major export markets also has been obtained. The American Soybean Association is continuing to work for final EU approval as soon as possible.

* No dicamba use allowed on RR2X soybeans in the 2016 growing season. While RR2X soybeans are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for use on RR2X soybeans during the 2016 growing season.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency only recently proposed a draft label for a dicamba product to be used with RR2X soybeans, and this draft label as well as anticipated labels for low-volatility dicamba herbicide formulations will NOT (repeat NOT) be finalized until late this summer or fall. Any use of a dicamba herbicide on RR2X soybeans in-season during 2016 before final labels are approved by EPA and state officials would be a violation of law.

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