If the registration process goes as anticipated, Bayer CropScience
will be marketing a new glyphosate-tolerant cotton trait in limited release in 2009. Named GlyTol, it uses a different gene and promoter as Monsanto's Roundup Ready Flex technology but gives similar results, Bayer executives say.
The GlyTol technology could be the first of several new cotton traits Bayer rolls out over the next few years. Monty Christian, Bayer CropScience director of cotton technology and fiber business, anticipates a FiberMax variety with GlyTol and Liberty Link traits to be released in 2010, another with GlyTol and Liberty Link plus Bollgard II in 2011, and a variety with GlyTol and Liberty Link plus Bayer's new two-gene Bt product, TwinLink in 2012.
Christian thinks the GlyTol trait will give cotton growers a new option for weed control. "Our objective with GlyTol is to provide cotton with high-performing varieties that include new proprietary in-plant tolerance to glyphosate herbicide. It's a new choice growers have for weed management decisions,” he says.
Only a limited amount of GlyTol product will be available next year, Christian says, and the company will focus efforts with it on the Southwest, where FiberMax captured nearly 66% of the cotton seed market in 2008, according to newly-released USDA data.
"Texas is still a good market for straight herbicide technology that's not stacked with Bt,” he says. That is how the product will initially be marketed.
"Our goal is to say, ‘just try this, just get it out.' We want to build a big enough base, and build it in the Southwest,” Christian says.
"It's an opportunity to offer growers choice in their weed management decisions.”
Bayer is looking at a long list of cotton traits that could be introduced beyond 2012, says Linda Trolinder, the company's cotton research and development manager. These include drought tolerance, improved water use efficiency, lepidopteran control, sap-sucking insect control, nematode control, disease resistance and wider-ranging herbicide tolerance.
In addition, Trolinder says, Bayer is looking to improve fiber characteristics like length, strength and micronaire. Perhaps even more intriguing: the company's work to bio-engineer fibers. She says they hope to change the ionic charge of the fiber, making it absorb dye better.
She's reluctant to put a date of release on any of these projects, saying only that the drought tolerant cotton will be on the market in 2015 at the earliest.