This was such an important topic the company gave a little demonstration. During this portion of Condon's talk, Harry Strek, who works in marketing and support for weed control biology, walked up on stage carrying a 6-foot palmer amaranth plant. The plant had grown to that size in just three weeks in the greenhouse, though any cotton farmer in Arkansas will tell you it'll grow that big faster.
The weed resistance issue was so important that the annual event included a session focused solely on the issue in an effort to educate a broader range of journalists. And Bayer CropScience does have an alternative with its Liberty Link technology which is growing quickly in areas hard hit by glyphosate-resistant weeds.
Liberty Link technology is popular, as is Liberty herbicide itself, and meeting rising demand for the crop protection product is a challenge for the company. The company is investing about $3 billion for capacity expansion between 2013 and 2016 and in the United States a cornerstone of that expansion is a new factory - to the tune of about $500 million - for the production of glufosinate ammonium, the active ingredient in Liberty herbicide.
While the crop protection industry is dealing with overcapacity issues on the whole, Condon notes that Bayer CropScience is in a different position. This expansion program will allow the company to expand production of key crop protection products significantly.
During a talk with U.S. ag journalists on hand, Condon talked candidly about the key focus areas including weed resistance, increasing use of biologicals in crop protection and its seeds and traits business. Of course, crop protection product development is an underlying foundation and Bayer CropScience also continues its discovery work there.
The weed resistance issue - met for now with Liberty herbicide - isn't going away. During the conference session on weed resistance, Hermann Stuebler, who heads up weed control research at Bayer CropScience, told journalists that after 2020, Bayer CropScience would have new modes of action available for the fight too. Not much more information came from that, but he did note that the company has filed more than 15 patents since 2012 (though not all of those were for active ingredient development).