Monsanto Pipeline Touts Coming Cotton And Corn

More flexibility for weed control in cotton and drought-tolerant corn soon.

Published on: Jan 7, 2009

A lot of cotton growers are concerned about herbicide-resistant weeds. Monsanto officials announced during the week-long 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio that help is on the way.

Monsanto reports that Dicamba- and Glufosinate-tolerant cotton is coming as its first three-way stack of herbicide-tolerant technologies in the pipeline, and has moved into Phase 2. It adds two new modes of action—Dicamba and Glufosinate tolerance—to the Roundup Ready Flex system. It is aimed to provide farmers great flexibility in weed management and the most effective weed control system.
Phase 2 means it is still about 6 to 7 years from launch, as it gains EPA approval.

Some of the guys gathered in San Antonio—especially those from the Texas Panhandle region—are corn growers too. So they also could benefit from drought-tolerant corn, especially with water becoming more limited and expensive to pump on the High Plains.

Monsanto announced its first-generation drought-tolerant corn has moved to the fourth—and final—phase before anticipated market launch early next decade. It has submitted its application for the product to the Food and Drug Administration for regulatory clearance, and it also must get approval from importing countries, including the European Union nations and Japan. It should be commercially available some time in the next decade.

Steve Padgette, biotechnology lead for Monsanto, noted this is the fastest a product has advanced from one phase to another in his 25 years with Monsanto.

Drought-tolerant corn is designed to provide farmers stability during periods when water supply is scarce by mitigating the effects of drought—or water stress—within the corn plant. Field trials for drought-tolerant corn conducted last year on the Western Great Plains have met or exceeded the 6% to 10% target yield enhancement—about 7 to 10 bushels per acre—over the average yield of 70 to 130 bushels per are in some key drought-prone areas in the United States.

"This product and other yield improvements we are developing will reset the bar for on-farm productivity," Padgette says.

Meanwhile, Monsanto officials say SmartStax contains multiple different modes of action for insect-resistant management, and is reported to be more effective against above-and below-ground insects. It should commercial launch in 2010.

Monsanto also is working toward second-generation, insect-protected Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans, and Roundup Ready, insect-protected sugarcane.