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Monsanto Expects Its Dicamba-Tolerant Seeds on 40% of U.S. Soy Acres

The world’s largest seed and ag chemical company said it expects U.S. farmers will plant 40 million acres of its dicamba-tolerant GMO soybeans this year, double the 2017 total and equal to four of every 10 acres of projected soybean sowings. Monsanto prominently included the continued adoption of its dicamba-resistant soybeans among its “expected drivers of growth” in business this year, along with improvements in the pricing of its glyphosate weedkiller, the adoption of dicamba-tolerant cotton, South American sales of glyphosate-tolerant soybean varieties, and the sale of new corn hybrids around the world.

“In soybeans, global demand for the newest technologies fueled first-quarter sales and a 30% jump in global soybean gross profit year over year, along with margin improvement,” said the St Louis-based company in reporting a gross profit of $1.3 billion for the three-month period. Net sales of soybean seed and traits totaled $728 million in the quarter, compared with $600 million a year earlier.

Monsanto said it “continues to expect 40 million acres of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans to be planted in fiscal year 2018.” The variety is genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate and dicamba. The company also forecast plantings of 6 million acres of a GMO cotton variety, called Bollgard II XtendFlex, that tolerates three herbicides: dicamba, glyphosate, and glufosonate. That would make up more than half of the USDA’s projected upland cotton plantings of 11.2 million acres.

The dicamba-resistant seeds were dogged by complaints of damage to nearby crops despite the use of low-volatility formulations of the weedkiller. Some weed scientists say the herbicide evaporated from where it was sprayed and moved onto susceptible nearby crops. In discussing its first-quarter sales, Monsanto said, “This past season, 97% of surveyed soybean growers who used XtendiMax Herbicide with VaporGrip Technology reported weed-control satisfaction.”

Meanwhile, the New York Post said Bayer’s chief executive “has begun to market U.S. assets owned by the German conglomerate in order to win clearance for its $66 billion merger with Monsanto.… The assets — which are expected to include a vegetable seeds business and a software unit that helps farmers determine soil conditions for crops — are said to represent more than the $1.6 billion in sales as required under the merger agreement when including the previously announced sale to BASF, sources said.”

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