What’s Coming in Herbicide-Tolerant Trait Stacks
There’s a saying that nothing is certain but death and taxes. This saying, though, should be altered to include weeds in your crops.
A particular disconcerting trend in recent years has been the advent of herbicide-resistant weeds. That’s particularly true with weeds that resist glyphosate. In past eras, farmers dealt with herbicide-resistant weeds by adopting a new herbicide mode of action.
Unfortunately, a new herbicide mode of action isn’t anywhere in the cards anytime soon. No new herbicide mode of action for corn and soybeans has been commercialized since HPPD inhibitors in the late 1990s.
Expense is one reason for this. “When I started in the business, it took about 10 years and $50 million to bring a product to commercialization,” says David Hollinrake, vice president of agricultural commercial operations marketing for Bayer CropScience. “Now it takes 10 years and $250 million.”
Rather than developing new herbicide modes of action, companies are instead developing new traits that tolerate existing chemistries. Examples include the following:
- Dow AgroSciences is developing soybeans that tolerate a new 2,4-D formulation as part of its Enlist Weed Control System. It’s expected to hit the market mid-decade, pending regulatory approval.
- Monsanto is developing soybeans that tolerate new formulations of dicamba under the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System. BASF is also developing new dicamba herbicide formulations for this trait-tolerant technology.
- Bayer CropScience and MS Technologies are developing a molecular stack of tolerance to glyphosate and isoxaflutole (the active ingredient in Balance Flexx, a HPPD-inhibitor herbicide used in corn) for soybeans. The trait is called Balance GT, and the herbicide is called Balance Bean. It’s expected to debut later this decade, pending regulatory approval.
- Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta are working on a new soybean trait that tolerates mesotrione (Callisto), glufosinate (Liberty), and isoxaflutole (Balance Flexx). It’s expected to debut later this decade, pending regulatory approval.
Expect trait stacks to continue, says Bayer’s Hollinrake.
There are existing tools that can be used to supplement postemergence herbicides and add additional herbicide action modes. DuPont’s Alluvex herbicide, new in 2014, is a tool corn farmers can use to provide a clean start prior to planting, says Jeff Carpenter, DuPont U.S. corn portfolio manager.