Corn and soybean farmers will gain another option for over-the-top control of tough weeds, such as waterhemp, lambsquarters and giant ragweed.
For corn and soybean farmers struggling to keep a lid on tough-to-control weeds while producing high-yielding crops, the introduction of new products currently in the pipeline can’t happen soon enough. This past week, those growers received some good news with the vote of confidence the USDA provided on Friday for the Dow AgroSciences Enlist Weed Control System.
In a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the USDA recommended full deregulation as its "preferred option" for the company’s new corn and soybean traits. The traits will be featured in Enlist corn, Enlist E3 soybeans and Enlist soybeans with Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield.
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Farmers will use the new corn and soybean products in tandem with the company’s Enlist Duo herbicide, a proprietary blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D choline. The herbicide contains Colex-D technology, which reduces volatility and the potential for physical drift.
Along with glyphosate and 2,4-D tolerance, Enlist corn will have tolerance to the FOP class of herbicides, including quizalofop, the active ingredient in Assure II and Targa, respectively. Enlist soybeans, Enlist E3 soybeans and Enlist cotton will also have tolerance to glufosinate, the active ingredient in the Bayer CropScience LibertyLink system.
Commercial application of the Enlist Weed Control System requires that the new seed traits and the new herbicide be approved by U.S. regulatory officials prior to use.
Farmers like Greg Goplerud of St. Ansgar, Iowa, look forward to having access to a new herbicide program, with multiple active ingredients, that will provide over-the-top control of tough weeds such as giant ragweed, lambsquarters, Palmer amaranth and waterhemp. "(It) gives us another option of getting control on resistant weeds that we are starting to see now," Goplerud says.
An online report by Trefis stock analysis service says Dow Chemical-sponsored third-party research shows that "cropland acres with weeds resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides (are on) over 65 million acres."
Dow AgroSciences notes in a company statement that the vast majority of corn, soybean and cotton farmers in the South (86%) are impacted by weeds that either resist herbicides or are hard to control. The company pegs the percentage of Midwest farmers suffering from the same plight at more than 61%.
Starting on Jan. 10, the public will have 45 days to comment on the USDA proposal. Dow AgroSciences is inviting farmers to present feedback on the Enlist corn and soybean traits.
"We encourage growers, retailers and others to make their voices heard at the USDA on the need for new weed control technology such as Enlist," says Damon Palmer, U.S. commercial leader for the Enlist Weed Control System.
Palmer says the easiest way for farmers to sign a petition in support of Enlist is to log-in at Advancefarming.com/petition.htm. Growers also are encouraged to check out product information at enlist.com and follow the Twitter handle @EnlistOnline.
"Comment periods are a key way for farmers to make their voices heard in the regulatory process," adds Bart Schott, former president of the National Corn Growers Association. "I would absolutely encourage growers to tell the USDA farmers need access to new technology like Enlist. Technology enables us to compete in the global economy."
Education Under Way
Some individuals and environmental groups have expressed skepticism toward the move by USDA to deregulate the Enlist Weed Control System, citing concerns that the technology will contribute to increased weed-resistance issues and herbicide drift.
However, laboratory and in-field research the company conducted in 2013 shows that using Enlist Duo with Colex-D technology in combination with a low-drift spray nozzle can decrease physical drift by up to 90% when compared with a tank mix of glyphosate and traditional 2,4-D sprayed through a standard XR nozzle. Dow reports that the new Enlist Duo also will have up to a 96% reduction in volatility compared with traditional 2,4-D products.
"The importance of understanding the new technology and using the best management practices is pivotal to the on-farm success of the Enlist system," Palmer says.
He adds that growers, retailers and seed sellers will have more opportunities this coming summer to learn about the system, including in-person and online training sessions.
Pending regulatory approvals, Dow AgroSciences expects to launch Enlist corn and soybeans in 2015, with cotton to follow.