Soybean Trait Toss Up

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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The soybean herbicide trait market is growing, but farmers have much to consider as they shop for 2019 seed, Image by Pamela Smith

Between new traits coming to market and the recent company mergers, soybean seed catalogs are as thick as they are confusing this year.

Depending on your seed retailer of choice, growers have multiple herbicide-tolerant trait platforms to pick from for the 2019 season--some new, some merely under new ownership.

Bayer now owns what once were Monsanto traits, including Roundup Ready 2 Xtend. BASF is the new owner of what was Bayer’s LibertyLink and Balance GT (now known as GT27) platforms. Dow’s Enlist traits are now housed under the Corteva umbrella.

Meanwhile, Pioneer and Syngenta will continue to sell varieties containing the Roundup Ready 2 and Xtend traits. The Roundup Ready 1 trait, now off-patent, can still be found lingering in a few lineups. Some regional companies plan to offer a smorgasbord of traits.

“You need a scorecard to keep up,” says Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee weed extension specialist. “The good news is that companies continue to work on more options for soybean growers, despite a tough regulatory climate,” he notes.

PENDING QUESTIONS. To add more drama, several of the traits have pending approvals that may influence the full utility of the technology. While companies continue to hope the contingencies will be ironed out, the unknowns are making for a unique and stressful shopping season for soybeans.

At press time, EPA had yet to label the new HPPD/Group 27 herbicide, branded ALITE 27, designed for use with GT27 varieties being codeveloped by BASF and MS Technologies. One of the active ingredients in ALITE 27 will be isoxaflutole.

Nor had the agency decided at press time if it would reregister Engenia, XtendiMax and FeXapan, the only dicamba herbicides legal for use with the Xtend cropping system. And, if they reregister, questions remain as to what additional spray restrictions might be added to the label.

Enlist and Enlist E3 soybean systems were also waiting for key import approvals. Last year, Dow did a limited release of Enlist E3 soybeans in a closed loop system with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and had seed-production acres.

Enlist E3 was developed with MS Technologies and is a three-way molecular herbicide stack created by one genetic insertion. It differs from another Enlist soybean system that has the same herbicide tolerances but was created by breeding in the Roundup Ready 2 (glyphosate-tolerance) event. Corteva is focusing its 2019 commercial offerings on Enlist E3 soybeans, says Mike Dillon, global soybean portfolio lead for Corteva.

NEW TO THE FIELD. Of all these options, the GT27 soybean platform is the all “new” for 2019. Farmers will see GT27 debut as a stand-alone offering with tolerance to glyphosate and ALITE 27 by some companies. But, expect BASF to put marketing thrust behind the three-way LibertyLink GT27 stack, which adds glufosinate to over-the-top options.

Also, keep in mind that ALITE 27 will be registered initially for preemergence use only.

“Our research has shown that when a good pre is followed by a postapplication of Liberty plus Roundup plus a residual, very good Palmer amaranth control can be achieved,” Steckel says.

Jody Wynia, the U.S. soybean lead for BASF, says the company is going with an aggressive commercial launch of LL GT27 in 2019 under BASF’s Credenz soybean platform. The 13 available Credenz varieties with LL GT27 will range in maturity from group 0 to group 4.5, he adds. LL GT27 will also be available from a number of independent seed companies.

Meanwhile, the need to juggle and plan trait technologies to manage for herbicide resistance and preserve existing technologies has never been greater, Steckel adds. An online tool to help keep track of herbicide sites of action can be found at


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