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Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System Soybean Debut Now Likely in 2016

Gil Gullickson Updated: 08/08/2014 @ 9:40am Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

It will likely be 2016 before you'll be able to use Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System for dicamba-tolerant soybeans.

Monsanto officials say they still expect USDA to approve the Roundup Ready Xtend System for soybeans by year’s end. However, Chinese approval for imports of the system’s soybeans isn’t expected by the end of 2014.

“In the interest of stewardship, that will push us back for (Roundup Ready Xtend) soybeans to 2016 (pending regulatory approval),” says John Combest, a Monsanto spokesperson. He adds that Monsanto wants farmers to be certain that Roundup Ready Xtend soybeans will be able to enter export channels. Since China is the largest U.S. soybean export customer, it’s key that Chinese approval is first gained before this technology is commercially released, says Combest.

As recently as 2012, Monsanto was targeting 2014 as the debut for this dicamba-tolerant technology that includes use in soybeans. This was before a May 2013 decision by USDA to have its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) launch two separate environmental impact statements (EIS) for traits that tolerate 2,4-D (Dow AgroScience’s Enlist Weed Control System) and dicamba herbicides.

Dow AgroSciences is still aiming for a 2015 commercial release of its Enlist Weed Control System that includes soybeans tolerant of 2,4-D. Just how large the scope and size of the release is hinges on timing of U.S. approvals and also import approvals by foreign nations. Like the Roundup Ready Xtend System, China is a stickler for gaining import approval for Enlist soybeans.

“There are still some approvals that need to be gained there,” says Damon Palmer, Dow AgroSciences U.S. commercial leader for Enlist.  That applies not to just the Enlist technology, but other soybean technologies as well, he adds. Regulatory authorities in Canada, Australia, Japan, Colombia, Taiwan, and Mexico and others have already approved Enlist system components.

Dicamba tolerance

Soybeans grown in the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System will contain Monsanto’s Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait technology that tolerates dicamba. Dicamba is now a commonly used chemical on corn, wheat, range and pasture, and turfgrass. However, current formulations like those contained in Banvel injure soybeans. Cotton grown under Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System is still on track for a limited commercial launch for 2015, Combest adds.

The Roundup Ready Xtend system will include a Monsanto premix of a low-volatility formulation of dicamba and glyphosate. It’s designed to manage weeds before planting and as an over-the-top option. BASF also plans to release a new dicamba formulation low in off-target movement potential called Engenia for use in the system.

One silver lining of a later commercial launch for these soybeans is that it will give Monsanto and its seed partners more time to get the dicamba-tolerant trait in the proper genetics, says Combest. It also gives farmers and applicators more time to familiarize themselves with the trait and the dicamba formulations that will accompany it.

Enlist status

This week, USDA released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Enlist Weed Control System. USDA’s preferred alternative — deregulation of the trait — stayed the same from the initial draft to the final statement. That bodes well for eventual approval of the system, says Palmer. The next and final step in the regulatory process for the 2,4-D-tolerant trait is USDA issuance of a Record of Decision, which Dow officials expect in the near future.

The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing Enlist Duo, the herbicide component of the technology. Enlist Duo is a proprietary blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D choline. Dow officials say its new 2,4-D choline formulation reduces off-target movement that is a concern with current formulations like 2,4-D ester and 2,4-D amine. EPA approval is expected later this year for Enlist Duo, say Dow officials.

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