Todd Hanten likes to test out new technology, and he’s not afraid to take on the responsibilities that might be involved. “I like to try new practices on my farm and see how they’ll work for me,” he says.
For 2015, the Goodwin, S.D., grower’s cutting-edge approach involved raising corn with some major restrictions. He was one of several producers who planted a Mycogen hybrid with the Enlist corn trait. That’s just one of the technologies farmers have to work with for 2016. From new traits to seed treatment investment, the industry is advancing technology in new ways.
The hybrid Hanten planted contains technology that allowed him to spray the field with Enlist Duo, a herbicide that includes glyphosate and an updated formulation of 2,4-D, providing two modes of action for stopping tough weeds.
To plant the corn, Hanten had to allow third-party monitoring of the field, which included making sure the 100 acres planted to the new-tech hybrid was at least 660 feet from the nearest cornfield. In addition, he couldn’t sell the seed into the market; instead, he had to feed it on farm. Turns out that works; he has a cattle feeder operation, and that’s where the corn is headed at harvest.
But why did Hanten try the tech, given the restrictions?
“I’m dealing with some [glyphosate-resistant] waterhemp, lambsquarter, and we’re seeing resistant kochia, too,” he says.
He traveled to Tennessee a few years ago and looked at the Palmer amaranth invasion. It’s the king of the resistant weeds, and Hanten didn’t like what he saw. “They have a terrible problem with Palmer amaranth,” he says. “When I saw that, I realized I was going to have to get after [the resistant weeds] on my farm. And I’ve been waiting for technology like the Enlist system.”
Working with neighbors
Hanten was cognizant of problems that might arise if the new-tech corn somehow got off his farm, and he didn’t want that to happen. So he started by talking with a couple of neighbors closest to his farm. “One neighbor was originally going to plant soybeans, but he changed his mind,” Hanten says. “But we worked it out and kept the Enlist field far enough away.”
While he had not harvested the 100-acre patch of the Enlist hybrid yet, Hanten liked what he saw. The corn looked good, and he was prepared to harvest it soon since he would harvest as high-moisture corn for use in the cattle ration.
As for using Enlist Duo? He has a soybean field that abuts the corn, and after the field was sprayed, he saw no damage. “I use a custom-spraying service, and they didn’t have issues with odor or with drift,” he says. “I can vouch for the lack of drift with the new product.”
As for 2016, would Hanten plant the tech? “Yes I would, and I hope China approves it for next year,” he says.
And that’s the rub. The Enlist Weed Control System may work great, but right now even though the trait and its complementary crop protection product are approved for use, China has not approved the trait.
“For 2015 we had a stewarded introduction of corn with the Enlist trait, and we had soybean production under our Field-Forward program. And there was the launch of Enlist Duo herbicide,” says John Chase, Enlist commercial leader, Dow AgroSciences. “Stewardship was paramount; we did not want to disrupt the grain channel.”
For 2016, Dow AgroSciences awaits China for both corn and soybean import approvals. The company also hopes to move ahead with the Enlist Weed Control System in cotton. The key there is getting approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use of Enlist Duo on cotton. Learn more about the Enlist system at enlist.com, or circle 121.
Waiting on China
And the China sticking point isn’t just impacting Dow AgroSciences. Monsanto also has its new technology — the Roundup Ready Xtend crop system, which is ready to move forward. There, the company faces two sticking points. First is getting EPA approval to apply dicamba on the crop. “The trait was deregulated in January; the next step is for EPA to provide that draft label for dicamba use over the top,” says John Combest, a spokesman for Monsanto.
The company did roll out the Roundup Ready Xtend system in cotton country but would not allow farmers to apply dicamba. The product was popular because it also includes a Liberty herbicide tolerance trait, which Southern producers like as a new mode of action in the weed-control business.
As for the EPA work? The new rule has not been released for public comment, which means a waiting game. The comment period would be followed by an extension, which is common. Then after that, the agency would have 30 days to review comments and make a final rule. It’s just that the clock hasn’t started ticking on the public comment period yet.
Roundup Ready 2 Xtend is available for soybeans and cotton. Combest says that corn is in development, but won’t come to market for a few more years. To learn more about Roundup Ready Xtend, circle 122.
ADDITION: Monsanto has announced its pre-order program for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend for its corporate seed brands. According to the statement the brands will "have the opportunity to participate in pre-commercial activities including placing pre-orders for dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans. Farmers will be able to place a researvation for the highly-anticipated new weed management technology."
When the technology is commercially introduced, the pre-orders will be processed and shipped as normal. The company notes that if the technology is not sold in 2016 Monsanto "has sufficient volume of leading Roundup Ready 2 Yield products held in reserve, and farmers would have the opportunity to choose from high-performance products selected for their regions."
Monsanto adds that if the tech is held up all applicable discounts associated with Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean pre-orders will be applied to the Roundup Ready 2 Yield replacement products. And the company anticipates finalizing its commercial intentions in the coming months. The new-tech soybeans will be offered through Asgrow and Channel brands and through Monsanto regional brands.
The future of seed
Seed companies are hard at work on new traits and new technologies. DuPont Pioneer announced its Qrome technology. It’s the same below ground insect control traits you can find in its current multi-stack trait hybrids; however, Qrome achieves the same level of protection through the insertion of a single trait, rather than two separate traits.
That makes the new tech compatible with more high-yielding hybrids. “We combined two traits into one event,” says Ryan French, DuPont Pioneer corn market manager. “We’re seeing the same performance and protection as we did with the two separate traits.”
The new event is now under regulatory review and being tested by DuPont Pioneer. The expected launch date — if all domestic and global approvals come through — is 2017. To learn more about Qrome, circle 123.
As new traits start moving into the pipeline, growers must keep them in mind when talking to their reps about seed. One DuPont Pioneer source mentioned that his seed sellers may be limited in their discussion of new traits that aren’t approved yet — like Roundup Ready Xtend — until they are approved. But if that approval comes late, you don’t want to leave that idea off the table.
For any new trait that may come to market in the new year, make sure you’re aware and talk it over with your supplier.
Seed treatments on the rise
Major companies are making great strides in seed treatment application, and they’re investing more, too. Syngenta recently broke ground on a new $20 million expansion of its North American Seedcare Institute in Stanton, Minn. It’s one of only 11 worldwide. The company also recently launched a new website on seed care, which many call seed treatment.
DuPont Pioneer recently opened its second Seed Science Center; this one in Johnston, Iowa. The facility contains classrooms, test labs and even treatment equipment for trying out formulations and training others on proper seed treatment. “The facility gives us on-the-ground capabilities to match treatments with genetics for the best integrated seed solution for our customers,” says Jeff Daniels, technical agronomy and application lead, DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise.
And the company unveiled an insecticide for its seed treatments for 2016 — Lumivia. It offers enhanced control of fall armyworm, black cutworm and other pests that can nip germination early. To learn more about Lumivia, circle 124.
Bayer CropScience opened a new SeedGrowth Equipment Innovation Center in July in Shakopee, Minn. The company made a $12 million investment in the 137,000-square-foot facility, which makes and markets On Demand batch treaters to apply custom seed treatments in any combination.
There are more investments in this area than ever before.
“Internally, we continue to evaluate the performance of the seed treatment technologies out there so we don’t miss something,” says Shane Meis, director of research, Wyffels Hybrids. “We’ve gone with the Bayer package, and there are options for the grower to select what they want.” That package includes Poncho/Votivo, which is an insecticide and nematicide combination.
Meis notes the company is looking at biologicals as seed treatments, noting Wyffels has “conversations with the folks working on that technology.” The key is that new technology can’t slow down conditioning capacity and doesn’t impact the flowability of the product for growers.
There’s a new soybean seed treatment coming to market for 2016. Intego Suite Soybeans from Valent is the first seed protection fungicide introduced for pythium and phytophthora in over 35 years. Thad Haes, seed protection marketing manager for Valent, says, “We have unique active ingredients for the market. We have a new molecule that is proprietary to Valent and is strong for pythium and phytophthora control. The key is to get that seed established and out of the ground.”
Haes notes the competitive seed treatment market means Valent must work with seed sellers to “get in the door” to make a sale, but he notes that the improved disease control the new product offers will make a difference. To learn more about Intego Suite, circle 125.
Looking ahead to 2016
There are new products to learn about from your seed seller, but in making future seed decisions, Ryan Moeller, technical seed manager, Croplan, offers some advice:
“Really think about what that seed salesperson told you about the hybrid or variety last fall, and consider whether you did the management practices required,” he says. “That way you can evaluate the yield from what you planted. Ask yourself, ‘Did I manage the product appropriately?’ ”
When evaluating a hybrid or variety, what you do is as important as the seed itself. It’s only as good as the management system it’s in. Look at performance of each hybrid against your management choices to determine the best seed for 2016. Good advice before buying seed.