Tough Timing in Weed Control

February 8, 2013 08:23 PM

Regulatory processes delay new weed control system

pC8 Tough Timing

Karl (left) and Pat Duncanson eagerly await a new herbicide so they can rotate chemistries.

Glyphosate-resistant water- hemp wrestled its way into fields on Pat and Karl Duncanson’s farm several years ago, defying their best efforts to keep it at bay.

"For us, the ‘aha’ moment was last year in soybeans when we saw all the classic signs of weed resistance," Pat says. The signs included dead, stunted and healthy waterhemp plants intermingled within a single field.

The Mapleton, Minn., producers are eager to try Enlist, a herbicide-tolerant trait system from Dow AgroSciences, to whip weeds. But a recent announcement from the company indicates that the Duncansons and other farmers will have to wait one more year to use the system in their fields.

Damon Palmer, U.S. commercial leader for Enlist, says the company is modifying its launch plans due to slower-than-anticipated regulatory processes by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Regulatory approvals proceed at their own pace, and we’re at a point now where farmers need certainty as they make planting decisions," Palmer says. "We’re continuing all of our launch activities for 2013; we’re committed to delivering Enlist to the farm gate."

Pending regulatory approval, the Enlist system is expected to be available for use in corn in 2014, soybeans in 2015 and cotton in 2016.

New formulation. The Enlist system features Enlist Duo herbicide, a proprietary blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D choline, with Colex-D technology. It is designed to minimize volatility and drift by roughly 90% over traditional 2,4-D products along with decreased odor and improved handling characteristics.

Enlist will also provide tolerance to FOP grass herbicides (such as Assure II) in corn and glufosinate (Liberty) in soybeans.

Duncanson says he looks forward to the new herbicide so he can rotate chemistries.

"Most of the conventional products just aren’t quite as effective as Roundup was historically or what Enlist sounds like it will be for us," Duncanson notes.

The continued need for good stewardship practices was underscored by the discovery of 2,4-D-resistant waterhemp this past year in Nebraska. The Weed Science Society of America reports the native-grass seed production field had been treated continuously with 2,4-D for 10 years.

A mix of practices and products can help keep all herbicide technology viable, notes Bryan Young, Southern Illinois University weed scientist. "The approach of combining multiple herbicide modes of action—a sound residual herbicide at planting and effective herbicide mixtures for in-season postemergence applications—has proven to be quite effective," he says.

Palmer adds that farmers will be able to see the efficacy of Enlist in a field near them later this summer.

Full Steam Ahead

Even though regulatory approval by the Environmental Protection Agency is still pending, Dow AgroSciences is moving forward with several launch activities for the Enlist weed control system:

Technology centers: Five technology centers are planned for the Midwest and the South. Farmers and retailers can take part in interactive field training to familiarize themselves with the system.

On-farm plots: The company intends to offer more than 100 Enlist plots at seed company and retailer locations. Plans are also under way to allow evaluation of the Enlist system on-farm.

Ramped up seed production and chemistry supply: The company plans to boost seed production and its supply of Enlist Duo herbicide in preparation for the 2014 introduction of Enlist corn in a broad geography.

You can e-mail Rhonda Brooks at


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