Seed Companies Pick Up the Pace on Seed Trait-Herbicide Systems

February 11, 2014 08:40 PM
Seed Companies Pick Up the Pace on Seed Trait-Herbicide Systems

More soybean seed trait-herbicide systems are on the way

As farmers work to curtail the spread of weed resistance, companies are picking up the pace to develop new seed trait-herbicide systems—particularly in soybeans. In the next few years, at least three programs are poised to launch.

One is Bayer CropScience’s Balance GT soybean performance system. The double herbicide-tolerant trait stack features tolerance to glyphosate and isoxaflutole. The latter is an HPPD inhibitor herbicide currently used only for corn and sold under the name Balance Flexx. For soybeans, the product will be marketed as Balance Bean.

Farmers who grow Balance GT soybeans will be able to use both glyphosate and Balance Bean in burndown, pre-emergence or early post-emergence to achieve broad-spectrum control of grass and broadleaf weeds, says Allen Gent, U.S. soybean product manager for the company.

"This formulation will offer low volatility with residual and some reactivation control," Gent says.
Reactivation properties mean that rainfall, even ½", will signal Balance Bean to re-engage and control late-emerging weeds through canopy closure. This reactivation ability is unique compared with the herbicide systems currently under development by Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto Company.

The Dow Enlist Weed Control System features Enlist Duo herbicide, a proprietary blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D choline. The Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans trait and herbicide system from Monsanto contains Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield technology. This system will be stacked with a trait tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides.

The Dow and Monsanto systems are expected to receive regulatory approval in time for the 2015 season, while the Bayer CropScience system is expected to reach farmers’ fields in mid-decade.
All three companies emphasize that farmers will need to employ best management practices to ensure the new systems are viable long term. Bayer has developed the Respect the Rotation stewardship initiative, which promotes crop rotation and encourages the use of multiple herbicide modes of action (MOA), as well as cultural and mechanical weed-control methods.

"Some weed scientists talk about 11 or 12 MOAs being available, but in reality, 99.9% of the chemistry that is used in corn and soybeans comes from only nine MOAs," says Eric Ifft, Bayer CropScience technical sales consultant. He uses a tool analogy to give farmers a better sense of what’s at stake.

"What if you lost your hammer, and you could never have another one, but your job was still to drive nails?" he asks. "Driving a nail with pliers is what weed control could be like if we don’t learn our weed-control tools."

More to come. The three trait-and-herbicide systems nearing approval are not the only technology on the horizon.

Bayer CropScience and Syngenta together have submitted applications for the approval of a new herbicide-tolerance soybean trait stack that confers tolerance to three herbicide active ingredients: mesotrione, glufosinate-ammonium and isoxaflutole. The trait stack is under review by regulatory authorities in the U.S., Canada and key soybean-importing countries, including the European Union. The launch is expected between 2015 and 2020.

Bayer CropScience is also stepping up its production of Liberty (glufosinate ammonium) herbicide. Construction of a new plant in Mobile, Ala., will contribute significantly to Bayer CropScience’s target of more than doubling global supply of Liberty. Start up of the plant is planned for late 2015, in time for the 2016 growing season. 

You can e-mail Rhonda Brooks at

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