This year, a couple Illinois growers got a reprieve from difficult-to-control waterhemp.
Both Dale Zelhart and Edwin Harpole planted 10 acres of Dow AgroSciences' new Enlist corn on their farms. Dow's Enlist system combines tolerance to glyphosate and 2,4-D in the same crop.
According to Damon Palmer, Dow's U.S. commercial lead for Enlist, ten growers planted Grower Research Plots across eight Midwestern states – Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Colorado. In total, approximately 100 acres of Enlist corn were planted with research permits in 2013.
Zelhart and Harpole were both impressed with the system's weed control capabilities. Harpole frequently battles waterhemp, cocklebur and morning glory on his farm near New Canton. Located near Mansfield, Zelhart's growing season is plagued by marestail, waterhemp and lambsquarter problems.
"I was really impressed with control," Zelhart notes. "It was excellent. I wish we had it everywhere."
Unfortunately for those battling tough weeds, the Enlist system will not be available next year. As most remember, the USDA notified Dow that an environmental impact statement must be prepared for their 2,4-D-tolerant crop system. Monsanto must undergo the same process for their dicamba-tolerant crop system.
Palmer notes Dow has yet to hear official word on the EIS' status with USDA. In November, Dow was preparing for a 2015 launch for both Enlist corn and soybeans.
Additionally, Palmer says Enlist E3 soybeans should launch in 2015. These soybeans will combine glyphosate, glufosinate and 2,4-D tolerance in a single molecular stack.
In the meantime, Dow continues to refine application guidelines. Palmer says a coarse to extremely-coarse droplet size will be recommended when applying the Enlist Duo herbicide, a blend of the new 2,4-D choline and glyphosate.
That said, Enlist Duo features a proprietary technology package, which Dow calls Colex-D Technology that has significantly reduced drift and volatilization properties. Both Zelhart and Harpole can attest to that.
Harpole had non-Enlist corn plants just 30 inches away from his research plot. He saw no damage whatsoever.
As for tank cleanout, Palmer says Dow recommends a triple-rinse procedure when going from spraying Enlist products to a non-Enlist broadleaf crop. If going from Enlist to glyphosate-tolerant corn, a single rinse is sufficient.
Harpole and Zelhart also commented that 2,4-D choline does not come with the unmistakable 2,4-D scent that traditional formulations are known for.
"2,4-D has a very distinct odor," Zelhart adds. "This had no smell whatsoever. In fact, if they hadn't told me the mixture included 2,4-D, I wouldn't have known."
Palmer notes 9 of the 10 farmers who tried Enlist on their farm said they achieved better weed control than with their typical chemical program. Zelhart says it definitely outperformed his typical system. He also expects to pay a premium for such control.
"It will have to be competitive, but I would be willing to pay a 10% to 15% premium for this sort of weed control," he adds.
Lastly, Zelhart reminds growers that this sort of weed control won't last forever if they don't do their part to properly steward the technology.
"If we treat this like glyphosate, we'll be right back where we are now in a few years," he adds.