Hurry Up and Wait

January 24, 2014 06:20 PM
Hurry Up and Wait

2015 poised for new seed and herbicide technology

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. In early January, those farmers received some good news with the vote of confidence USDA provided for the Dow AgroSciences Enlist Weed Control System.

In a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), USDA recommended full deregulation as its "preferred option" for the company’s new corn and soybean traits. If advanced, the proposal will give farmers a new version of seeds that can tolerate herbicides and provide another weapon in fighting glyphosate resistance.

Farmers, including Greg Goplerud from St. Ansgar, Iowa, look forward to having access to a new herbicide program 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 adds that Dow Chemical-sponsored third-party research shows that "cropland acres with weeds resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides [now total] more than 65 million acres."

DSC 2494

U.S. cropland acres with weed resistance now total more than 65 million acres.

What to expect. Pending regulatory approval, the Enlist Weed Control System seed traits will be featured in Enlist corn, Enlist E3 soybeans and Enlist soybeans with Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield.

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 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 both the new seed traits and the new herbicide be approved by U.S. regulatory officials prior to use.

As of early January, the public was given 45 days to comment on the DEIS proposal. In response, 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 USDA on the need for new weed control technology such as Enlist," says Damon Palmer, Dow U.S. commercial leader for the system.

Palmer says the easiest way for farmers to sign a petition in support of Enlist is to go to Farmers can also check out the product information at 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, in a press release.

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 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.

Pending regulatory approvals, Dow AgroSciences expects to launch Enlist corn and soybeans in 2015, with cotton to follow.

Pivotal year. In addition to the Enlist Weed Control System launch, 2015 also appears to be poised for the introduction of Monsanto Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans. This new trait and herbicide system will contain the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait technology stacked with a trait tolerant to dicamba, as well as glyphosate herbicides. The herbicides will be paired in a premix called Roundup Xtend Herbicide.

Monsanto says the premix is designed to manage weeds before planting and as an over-the-top option on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend crops during the season. In addition to providing broad-spectrum weed control, the new herbicide formulation is designed to extend application and planting flexibility and lengthen the window for post-emergence applications.

Dow began the regulatory process for its 2,4-D-tolerant crop products more than a year before the Monsanto next-generation dicamba weed management technologies, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton, notes Michelle Vigna, Roundup Ready Xtend System launch manager for Monsanto.

Vigna says because Dow submitted petitions to USDA for 2,4-D-tolerant corn and soybeans prior to Monsanto’s first dicamba-tolerant submission, USDA elected to maintain that order as it completes the DEIS process. "We are excited to see completion of the DEIS for Dow’s products and look forward to USDA reaching this same milestone with respect to its review of dicamba-tolerant products in the coming months," Vigna says. 

You can e-mail Rhonda Brooks at

For more information on weed issues, from resistance to control measures to stewardship, visit

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