CAMDEN POINT, Mo. -- Rules to the weed-management game are about to get more complex. Weed resistance to glyphosate has caused growers and crop protection companies to scramble for new tools and new methods to manage weeds. Monsanto hopes to be first out the box with Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System.
The 2015 growing season now is its target release date -- if regulatory approvals arrive in time. Sounds like a long way off, but the agribusiness giant already is in full education mode for farmers, custom applicators and other interested parties.
The new system has two primary components: 1) new seed products (soybeans with tolerance to glyphosate and dicamba and cotton with tolerance to those two chemistries plus tolerance to glufosinate); 2) new low-volatility herbicide formulations containing dicamba. The idea is to provide multiple modes of action to better manage weed resistance.
I recently attended a Monsanto Learning Xperience in Camden Point, Mo., one of about 20 such sites around the country where the company hopes to educate about 10,000 dealers in time for the launch. University types, application equipment manufacturers and journalists toured test plots and listened to presenters, who made clear that Monsanto wants to get this program right from the beginning.
There is a lot at stake. With no new modes of action in the chemistry pipeline and the weed resistance problem growing, it is important to preserve existing tools.
One of the key variables in the Xtend program is the delivery system. Specifically, farmers and custom applicators will have to adopt new spray regimes and clean-out procedures to get the most from the new tools while avoiding dicamba drift that could damage nearby non-resistant crops.
Here are some of Monsanto's current recommendations:
*Apply when weeds are about 4-inches tall. Waiting longer can reduce effectiveness.
*Use very coarse or ultra coarse nozzles. Larger drops are less likely to drift.
*Apply when wind speeds are 3 to 10 mph. Too high wind speeds obviously can increase chances of drift. Too low wind speeds can do the same if a heat inversion (usually at dawn or dusk) keeps the chemical aloft long enough for it to float away.
*Keep boom heights at around 20 inches. Not an easy thing to do on terraces, but necessary to minimize drift.
*Establish a spray buffer. Monsanto is still working on an appropriate buffer size and description.
*Slow down. Application equipment speeds of more than 15 mph encourage mistakes and drift potential.
*Triple-rinse equipment after application.
This last item got special attention from presenters. A thorough triple-rinse can take more than an hour. Sprayers are complex machines with a lot of components -- such as diaphragms and filters -- where chemicals can be trapped. Monsanto recommends a 10-step process that includes using a cleaning solution. Three 15-minute agitations are necessary as is removing nozzles, screens and strainers for separate cleaning. All of this creates a lot of rinsate, which must be disposed of properly.
To shorten the process, Monsanto and others are developing chemical deactivators, which can neutralize chemical compounds and make rinsing more efficient. In trials, these deactivators have cut rinse time by half or more.
DTN/The Progressive Farmer will carry detailed coverage of rinsing procedures as introduction of the Xtend program nears release. Watch for an application learning experience -- by Monsanto or others -- near you.
The game is changing.
Jim Patrico can be reached at email@example.com
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