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Dicamba Bean Strategy

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Monsanto announced Monday that they will allow farmers to pre-order new dicamba soybeans for the 2016 growing season (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Seed companies are beginning to reveal their contingency plans for new herbicide trait technologies for 2016. Although farmers have anxiously awaited the new traits, lack of vital regulatory approvals have stalled introductions.

Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer have announced they will allow preorders for new Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans this fall with a guarantee of substitute products if commercialization does not occur.

The Xtend trait, which confers dicamba tolerance, has been deregulated in the United States and Canada. However, Monsanto's herbicide component of the package awaits clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). BASF also has a low-volatility formulation of dicamba called Engenia that awaits registration. However, the larger stumbling block is the dicamba trait does not have import approvals from China, an important customer of U.S. soybeans.

In a written statement, Monsanto said farmers would be able to place a reservation this fall to take advantage of seed discounts. If Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans clear regulatory hurdles, the pre-orders will be processed and shipped as normal.

Monsanto did go to market with its new Xtend cotton varieties without the herbicide approval or China trait approval in 2015, but the company has said it will not do the same in soybeans because of the importance of China to the U.S. soybean market. Cotton growers were also not allowed to use dicamba products over the top of the trait in 2015.

"In the event Monsanto does not commercially sell the product next season, the company has sufficient volume of leading Roundup Ready 2 Yield products held in reserve, and farmers would have the opportunity to choose from high-performing products selected for their regions," the release read. "If this would occur, all applicable discounts associated with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean pre-orders will be applied to the Roundup Ready 2 Yield replacement products."

Monsanto also indicated it anticipates finalizing commercial intentions in the coming months. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans will be available in Asgrow brand, Channel brand and Monsanto regional brands. Some Monsanto licensees also have the opportunity to participate in similar pre-commercial activities including the reservation process in their seed brands. The company release indicated plans to introduce more than 60 varieties across eight maturity groups with improved resistance packages against nematodes and Phythophthora root rot.

This year, Monsanto had nearly 100 farmers participating in a soybean program called Ground Breakers that allows an early peek at products not fully commercialized. The program was folded into the company's seed production program for 2015, and all Xtend soybean seed harvested will be used as seed for the 2016 planting season, pending regulatory approvals.

DuPont Pioneer licensed RR2 Xtend genetics from Monsanto in a March 2013 tech agreement and has announced 12 new Pioneer brand T Series soybean varieties with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend technology will be available for pre-ordering this fall in the United States.

Dow AgroSciences is also in regulatory limbo with the Enlist Weed Control System, a trait based on 2,4-D technology. Although Dow has received all the necessary labels and regulatory approvals to commercialize in the United States, the trait has not yet received vital China approvals.

In response to DTN inquiries, Dow AgroSciences said it continues to assess the launch of Enlist soybeans and "will evaluate options based on the status of import approvals as the 2016 season gets closer." In 2015, Enlist soybeans were grown in a stewarded program for seed increase only. The company also said it would launch Enlist corn in the U.S. in 2016, pending import approvals.

Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.smith@dtn.com

(GH/AG)

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Pedro Sanchez
9/29/2015 | 8:50 AM CDT
So does this mean our seed is going to be cheaper?