Resolving Herbicide Issues

From weather to weeds to worries, 2010 taught us valuable lessons in crop protection. It’s time now to turn that insight into action to address your growers’ top concerns heading into 2011.

No doubt, there’s a lot to consider as you weigh herbicide options: New products, new manufacturer programs, new recommendations and everything else that goes along with building your profit margins and protecting your growers. To help you sort out these issues, we’ve gathered perspectives from the best sources in the industry. Read on to hear what these experts have to say.

Probably the most top-of-mind challenge during the 2010 season came from glyphosate resistance. Across the Corn and Soybean Belt, growers faced growing populations of resistant Palmer amaranth, waterhemp, giant ragweed and marestail, to name a few. Crop protection product manufacturers are well aware of the problem and taking steps to help you determine the best strategies for your growers’ fields in the coming season.

All agree that every precaution should be taken to maintain the sustainability of the valuable glyphosate technology. All also agree that the popularity and simplicity of the chemistry led to overuse. It’s time to be better stewards.

There’s good news: Collaboration between manufacturers and university researchers, along with grower feedback, means many new programs for reducing the chances of developing resistant weeds and managing existing ones are available to help address 2011 crop protection concerns.

“Glyphosate is no longer a stand-alone weed-management system,” says Craig Abell, Syngenta technical support representative. “It’s a supplement to a two-pass residual herbicide weed control program. With an all-glyphosate program, we’ve put a tremendous amount of selection pressure on this technology. That’s why we’re going back to using preemergence residual herbicides with other modes of action.”

In corn, Abell suggests residual herbicides that have multiple modes of action. For example, Lumax or Lexar can be applied preemergence. Halex GT is a glyphosate with residual and multiple modes of action for postemergence weed control in glyphosate-tolerant corn.

In soybeans, he suggests using a preemergence with a wider application window such as Prefix, which also reduces the risks associated with applying glyphosate too early or too late.

Tim Keller, corn and soybean product manager, Dow AgroSciences, agrees. “Overuse of a single product with a single mode of action allows Mother Nature to win in the end, and resistant weeds develop. That’s why Dow AgroSciences and others have developed herbicide management programs that start with a foundation residual herbicide intended to gain farmers those extra bushels per acre from trait-enhanced seeds.”

Retailers need to assess grower’s fields on a case-by-case basis to design a weed control strategy, says Dr. Dan Westberg, BASF weed scientist. “If you fail to control resistant weed species with your preplant herbicide application, there are few, if any, postemergence options.

“More and more growers recognized their excessive weed pressures in 2010 were not escapes. They were resistant weeds,” says Westberg. “Retailers’ recommendations for new crop protection systems with different modes of action are critical to growers’ success in 2011.”

Kixor herbicide technology, launched in 2010 by BASF, was applied to more than 10 million acres. “This rate of adoption is a clear indication that growers were looking for a product to provide better control of resistant broadleaf weeds,” says Westberg.

Many field experts also expect a return to more cultivation as growers search for good herbicide systems to battle resistant weeds. However, many experts find this will not be necessary. Some report instances in 2010 of growers resorting to manual weed control.

Early Plan Of Defense

In many parts of the Midwest, retailers and customers started next year’s spring weed control with fall preemergence residual herbicide applications.

“It’s a growing practice along the I-70 and 1-80 corridors where winter annual and biennial weeds thrive. There are ’emotional weeds,’ such as marestail, dandelion and many others that are more easily controlled with fall or early spring applications,” says Jeff Carpenter, DuPont corn herbicide portfolio manager.

“Fall or early-season preemergence applications of residual herbicides containing multiple modes of action and burndown characteristics protect growers against the headaches of resistant weeds that can’t be controlled with post sprays.”

Crop protection circumstances now dictate a return to preemergence residual herbicide treatments, says Jason Paris, MFA manager, crop protection products, Northern markets. “Our retailers definitely will be using more preemergence products in corn and soybeans, as well as glyphosate tank-mix partners, about 90 percent of the time. Shifting the focus to residual herbicides with multiple modes of action will benefit our retailers, plus make more agronomic sense for farmers.”

Joe Sims, Sims Fertilizer & Chem­ical, Osborne, KS, tells his customers: “Spray early and spray often, especially in no-till, using different modes of action. The current price of commodities helps support this approach.”

Manufacturer Collaborations

Monsanto partnered with Valent, FMC and Makhteshim Agan for 2011 as part of the new weed management solutions platform of Roundup Ready Plus.

“Our combined product offerings aim to provide options for using different manufacturers’ chemistries to manage glyphosate resistance,” says Shannon Hauf, Monsanto cotton & specialty crop lead. “We hope using herbicides with different modes of action will allow retailers to drive across the field once preemergence and gain a wider application window for that in-season Roundup application in Roundup Ready corn and soybeans.”

Included in the collaboration are:

  • Valent: Valor SX, Valor XLT and Gangster preemergence residual herbicides, along with Select post-grass herbicide. In subsequent seasons, Fierce (a new product pending EPA registration) may be added.
  • FMC: Authority First DF, Au­thority MTZ DF, Authority XL and Authority Assist brand line-up of preemergence residual soybean herbicides.
  • Makhteshim Agan: Various products that will help growers manage weeds in cotton.

Other Resistance Programs

The new Bayer CropScience “Respect the Rotation” program puts focus on managing weed resistance through herbicide diversity, while looking at ways to enhance growers’ ability to attain maximum crop profits.

“Resistance warrants attention, and we offer several options,” says Rob Schrick, Bayer strategic business lead. “Growers can consider LibertyLink soybean seed traits combined with Ignite non-selective herbicide chemistry for a non-glyphosate alternative.” Bayer also offers multi-mode of action products in corn with Corvus pre and Capreno post, one-pass products.

Dow AgroSciences recommends its “Traits for Technology” herbicide program to limit weed resistance and protect yield in herbicide-tolerant crops.

“Using preemergence residual herbicides, such as SureStart for corn and Sonic for soybeans, provides multiple modes of action prior to a glyphosate application,” says Keller. “These are great two-pass programs that get fields off to a clean start with a lot of application flexibility.”

Most retailers plan to continue to grow precision agriculture services. Crop scouting, soil testing, fertilization options, seed treatments, insect control and other agronomic support will factor into the mix of value-added offerings for their growers.

“Along with promoting preplant, preemergeence and postemergence tank mix partners and agronomic services, we’ll continue to support all of our suppliers and their rebate and reward programs,” says Cody Loyd, crop production division manager, Panhandle Cooperative, Scottsbluff, NE.

Monsanto is enhancing its Roundup Rewards program with a new Residual Rewards element. It’s focused on encouraging farmers to include residual herbicides in their corn and soybean weed management purchase choices.

The program provides financial incentives to growers who follow best management practices and pair qualified products from Monsanto and other companies. Soybean/corn growers using recommendations are eligible for Residual Rewards, which offers a rebate of up to $3 per acre for qualifying residual herbicides. Amounts vary depending on the residual product and whether Roundup PowerMAX or Roundup WeatherMAX is used.

Innovation Plus is the Bayer program for rebates. It will reward growers up to $1.60 per acre for using company products.

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