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New herbicide slated for later this decade from BASF

Weeds resistant to glyphosate are helping to spawn a revival in row crop herbicides.

This trend was reinforced this week as BASF officials announced a new herbicide for corn production that it plans to seek registration for in the United States. Termed now by its development name, BAS 800H, BASF expects the herbicide to be launched in 2009 or 2010 in the United States.

A PPO inhibitor, the herbicide is a new mode of action for corn, says Michael Heinz, president of BASF Agricultural Products division. BAS 800H has excellent broadleaf activity on weeds that are becoming more difficult for glyphosate to control, such as waterhemp or giant ragweed. The compound can also be used on soybeans.

The announcment coincides with activity in other companies about new chemistry in row corps. DowAgroSciences recently unveiled its DowAgroSciences Herbicide Tolerance (DHT) technology to improve and enhance the performance of glyphosate and glufosinate. Meanwhile, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and its parent company DuPont plan to market its alternative glyphosate technology, Optimum GAT, in 2009 and 2010.

The BAS 800H announcement was one of several things that BASF officials discussed during a media tour at the company's headquarters in Limburgerhof, Germany. Other topics included:

  • Plant health
    The company has used the plant health concept to market Headline on corn and soybeans in the United States. The company exceeded sales targets in the U.S. in 2007 for Headline, says Marcus Heldt, group vice president, North America. On average, economical yield boosts have occurred, he says.

    Application timing is crucial, he says, as it needs to be applied around tasseling. Logistics can be a challenge in getting aerial applicators lined up during a narrow time window. However, for those who have been able to do it, Headline applications have increased profits, he says. They especially see good results on the fast-growing "racehorse" varieties, says Heldt.

North American market
Despite gains made by Headline, the company says its sales in the North American region fell by 17% in the first half of the year, according to a half-year report released August 1. Some reasons included the widespread adoption of glyphosate-resistant corn. Despite concerns about weed resistance to glyphosate, U.S. farmers significantly increased plantings of glyphosate-resistant corn in 2007. Heinz also cited lower use of preemergence herbicides due to delayed corn and soybean planting in many parts of the United States in 2007.

Cooperation with Monsanto
Hans Kast, head of BASF Plant Science, discussed the company's agreement with Monsanto made earlier this year. Under the agreement, BASF and Monsanto are working together on developing traits that enhance yields, deal with stressors like drought and cold, and also for resistance to nematodes.

"It has a broad licensing approach that will enable products to reach the broadest market possible," says Kast. The timetable for these products making it to market is in the next decade.

Weeds resistant to glyphosate are helping to spawn a revival in row crop herbicides.

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