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Soybean tech on deck

If you compare crops to families, soybeans have mimicked the forgotten middle child when it comes to traits.

Soybeans started out strong with Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996. In the next decade, though, companies marketed corn traits with tolerance to glyphosate, European corn borer, and corn rootworm. Meanwhile, soybean traits stalled.

This will change. Glyphosate-resistant weeds have spawned several new soybean weed-control technologies set for market in the next few years. More options to complement glyphosate-resistant systems are good news to farmers like Ray Gaesser, Corning, Iowa.

"We'd consider technology like dicamba-resistant soybeans and LibertyLink soybeans to complement glyphosate because of possible weed escapes from glyphosate," he says. "Weeds like glyphosate-resistant waterhemp and marestail are getting close and will eventually be here."

Bear in mind genetics should rule varietal selection. Traits are more than just add-ons, however, in that they can add value to your soybeans.

"Start with the best genetics in the industry and then use the best traits to protect that yield," says Dan Kilborn, a Channel Bio agronomist and BioFuture experience manager.

If you compare crops to families, soybeans have mimicked the forgotten middle child when it comes to traits.

Optimum GAT from Pioneer Hi-Bred is set for corn in 2010 and soybeans in 2011, pending federal approval. Pioneer officials say this gives farmers another mode of action for soybean weed control. This glyphosate-resistant technology attacks weeds in a different manner than the current Roundup Ready soybean system. This will help forestall glyphosate resistance.

LibertyLink soybeans are also set to debut in 2009. Bayer CropScience is marketing the technology as the only nonselective herbicide-resistant option to glyphosate.

Then there's the granddaddy of them all: Roundup Ready soybeans. Monsanto plans to meet the new competitors with its next Roundup Ready technology, Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans. They're set for a commercial release in 2009, primarily in maturity groups 2 and 3 across 1 to 2 million acres. Monsanto plans a full-scale launch over a broad geographical range in 2010. Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans will be the main platform of Monsanto's future traits, such as dicamba-resistant soybeans that are slated for next decade.

A look past 2009 reveals more soybean traits on the way. Syngenta has several new herbicide tolerances with a three- to six-year time horizon that will provide growers with new ways to control weeds. Companies also aim to offer improved resistance to soybean aphids, soybean cyst nematode, and output traits like omega-3 soybeans in the next decade.

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