Strict application protocols for the use of 2,4-D and dicamba tolerant crops must be in place before the new technologies can find a solid foothold in the Southeast farming landscape. And work is being done to create and implement such plans.
Pending regulatory approval, Monsanto plans to offer soybeans tolerant to its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, which will have glyphosate and dicamba herbicides, available to farmers for the 2014 growing season.
Dow AgroSciences plans to have available corn varieties tolerant to its Enlist Duo herbicide (2,4-D choline and glyphosate), part of its Enlist Weed Control System, ready for the 2014 growing season. Both companies plan to launch cotton, corn and soybeans varieties tolerant to their respective systems by mid-decade.
The labels on both products will have strict application and equipment requirements.
Enlist Duo herbicide comes with Dow's proprietary technology called Colex-D, which makes the new 2,4-D formulation very low in volatility, minimizes physical drift, decreases odor and improves handling. Monsanto partnered with BASF to create Roundup Xtend herbicide with low-volatility dicamba.
Application requirements vary slightly for each product, but have a lot in common:
No aerial application for either product. Growers who use the new technology will be required to watch spray heights, no more than 20 inches above canopy. Only spray when weeds are four inches or less, for example, with the Roundup Xtend system. They will need to use low-drift nozzles, like TEE JET's AiXR nozzles with the Enlist system. Proper wind speeds, between 3 and 10 mph, and wind direction and air temperature will be part of using it, too. Can't drive the sprayer faster than 15 mph, either. And proper tank clean out will be essential.
Dow's Enlist Ahead program puts forth requirements and recommendations for using Enlist "that will help ensure the success for growers using the technology and the benefits of the system. It is designed for the growers and applicators to ultimately be successful without causing problems for their neighbors," said Mark Peterson, global biology team leader for Dow AgroSciences who spearheading the Enlist system research.
Monsanto has details about its dicamba-tolerant crops and stewardship at RoundupReadyPLUS.com.
Current on-line registries for sensitive crop locations, like www.driftwatch.org in the Midwest, can be expanded to the Southeast to help growers pinpoint sensitive crops, Peterson said, noting that most farmers now have mobile computers, their phones, readily available to do this easily.
Both companies will setup their own "learning centers" around the Southeast to showcase the technologies, particularly the proper way to apply and handle them.
Specialty crop growers are concerned the technology will intrude on their crops.
What's to keep a grower from not using off-the-shelf generic and problematic 2,4-D or dicamba in these new weed systems? First, both products will have to remain competitively priced against generic products. And both companies will require growers to agree to use only the new reformulated chemistries on the tolerant crops.
Both Peterson and Shannon Hauf, Monsanto's lead on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend, say neither weed program alone will be the "Silver Bullet" to Southeast weed control. Growers must continue to use multiple modes of herbicides, including residuals, to fight herbicide resistance.