Farm Industry News

Revival of the fittest

Evolving formulas in 2000 included glyphosate and revamped products.

Last year the glyphosate race continued as companies jockeyed for position with look-alike products in the Roundup Ready (RR) market, which represents more than 38 million soybean acres. When the dust settled, at least nine companies offered glyphosate-based herbicides, each with a little different spin or value-added approach for soybean growers' consideration. Here's a look at how some of those glyphosate products stacked up, along with other rookie soybean and corn herbicides, many of them actually older compounds that companies fine-tuned or revamped to offer farmers better weed-control benefits.

Monsanto. In 2000, Monsanto introduced growers to its new Roundup UltraMax, and although quantities were limited, growers applied it to more than one million soybean acres. The new formulation, available in what the company calls its Power-Packed Gallon, contains 25% more active ingredient than Roundup Ultra, allowing growers to spray more acres with fewer containers, says Dean Hendrickson, U.S. Roundup brand manager. With a 26-oz. use rate, a 30-gal. drum treats 30 more acres than Roundup Ultra.

Bill Garver, Jr., manager of Brandt Consolidated, Ashland, IL, notes, “Whenever you can use less product, that's definitely a benefit for everyone.” He anticipates that, by going solely with the new UltraMax formulation, he will need about 2,000 fewer containers this year for the same number of acres.

Monsanto claims that Roundup UltraMax offers the same efficacy and affordability as Roundup Ultra and will be in the $10 to $11/acre range.

This year growers also can take advantage of the new Roundup UltraMax rainfast warranty. Because Roundup UltraMax is rainfast within 60 minutes, Monsanto is able to warrant that rainfall after one hour of application will not impact weed-control performance or the company will provide 20 oz./acre of Roundup UltraMax for respray purposes.

Also, Monsanto's Roundup Rewards program for this season guarantees that if a farmer must replant or suffers a crop loss, the company will provide him with a refund for the technology, says Kurt Rahe, market manager. He says more than 60,000 farmers received benefits from the company's Roundup Rewards program last year. There is no catch to the guarantee, but Rahe emphasizes that for growers to receive the benefits from Roundup Rewards, they must use Roundup brand products.

“We don't cover imitator products,” he notes. “Growers must use our technology for the benefits.” For more information, contact Monsanto Ag Products, 800 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63167, 800/768-6387 or circle 205.

In corn, Monsanto focused its attention on Degree Xtra, a companion product to Harness Xtra. Degree Xtra features a patented encapsulation technology that releases increasing amounts of acetochlor as soil temperatures rise above 50°F. The atrazine in the product is not encapsulated and is released immediately for both contact and residual weed control, says Rick Cole, corn herbicide technical manager for Monsanto.

“We were a little anxious last year during the introduction because of consistent dry conditions we had throughout the Corn Belt,” he recalls. “Overall, the product held up even in the toughest situations and performed very well.” Degree Xtra is registered for use on production seed corn, popcorn, and field and silage corn. The product can be applied preemergence or preplant at a rate of 3 to 3.7 qts./acre.

Monsanto also launched its ReadyMaster ATZ for RR corn in 2000. The product contains the same active ingredient that is in Roundup Ultra plus atrazine. Cole says ReadyMaster fits on acres where burn down of tough weeds and grasses is needed and where residual control is required. For 2001, it will be included in the Roundup Rewards program. “If farmers use the 2 qts./acre, followed by an in-crop treatment of 20 oz./acre of Roundup UltraMax, we guarantee that will be the last application they'll need to pay for,” Cole states. For more information, contact Monsanto Ag Products, 800 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63167, 800/768-6387 or circle 206.

BASF. New Ultra Blazer steamrolled past traditional Blazer this past season, tripling its sales from the previous year, says Chuck Kupatt, BASF manager of product strategy for corn brands. With its new ion-charged technology, Ultra Blazer offers the same efficacy on tough weeds, such as waterhemp and morningglory, but with less phytotoxicity than its predecessor or most other competitive products, such as Cobra and Flexstar.

“The burn definitely was not as severe as with other similar herbicides,” notes ag chem retailer Bill Garver. He says he used a half rate of Ultra Blazer (about 8 oz./acre) along with Raptor in those soybean fields where waterhemp control was needed. He notes that even one waterhemp plant poses a serious threat to soybean yields. “One plant produces up to 100,000 seeds, so it's a very prolific weed, and it's tough to control because it's becoming increasingly resistant to the herbicides we have available,” he explains. “Ultra Blazer did a good job and, cosmetically, the soybean plants showed less burn.”

For 2001, BASF is positioning Ultra Blazer as “ultra cool” in the marketplace to draw attention to the phytoreduction benefit, notes Brett Bruggeman, BASF manager of product strategy for soybean brands.

Bruggeman says that in total post programs the company will position Ultra Blazer in conjunction with Raptor. In a sequential program, the positioning is Prowl followed by Pursuit or Raptor tankmixed with Ultra Blazer.

New for 2001 is BASF's Performance Guard program, the company's answer to similar programs provided by Monsanto. Through its Smart Biology program, BASF will tailor its products to fit corn and soybean growers' specific weed-control needs. If any control breaks do occur, the company will provide product for reapplication.

The company also is offering its Performance Partners program. Growers can qualify for up to a $3/acre rebate when they use Prowl, followed by Pursuit or Raptor, and Ultra Blazer.

With BASF's acquisition of American Cyanamid late last year, the company added two new soybean premix products to its portfolio: Extreme and Backdraft. Both products contain glyphosate for use on RR soybeans. Bruggeman says Extreme combines the contact activity of glyphosate plus the proven residual of Pursuit in one jug. “Extreme is a superior alternative to Roundup UltraMax,” he claims.

Backdraft contains the active ingredient used in Scepter, thus offering burn down along with residual weed control in soybean fields in the east and south. However, Bruggeman says the company may make some changes to the Backdraft formulation this year. “Growers told us there was too much Scepter and not enough glyphosate in the product, so we're looking at changing those levels for more optimum results in 2001,” he says.

Celebrity Plus, in its first full year in the corn market, touts total post weed control, Kupatt says. The company rapidly sold out of the product last year and saw Celebrity Plus applied on about 1 1/4 million acres. The product is targeted for both annual and perennial grass and broadleaf control across the Midwest and is a good fit on acres where Accent or Accent Gold has been used. For 2001, Celebrity Plus will replace Celebrity. Pricing will remain flat at about $20 to $21/acre. For more information, contact BASF, Box 13528, Durham NC 27709, 800/669-1770 or circle 207.

Bayer. Soybean growers found Domain to be a good fit in the preemergence market and applied it on just less than one million acres, nearly double what the company had anticipated for its introductory year, says Scott Fleetwood, Bayer soybean market manager. He notes that ag chem retailers and growers used the product to fill some glyphosate-control gaps with waterhemp, lambsquarters, velvetleaf, signalgrass and ragweed.

Retailer Dave Ferch says his customers used Domain early preplant in RR soybeans. “We were trying to delay follow-up spray applications so we wouldn't need to use Roundup twice,” explains Ferch, manager of Farm Fertilizer, Hamlet, IN. “We used a lower rate (around 10 oz./acre), and it did keep fields clean in that April—May time frame, which is what we'd hoped to achieve.”

For 2001, Domain will be included in Monsanto's Technology Value Package program, Fleetwood says. “This is certainly positive for us when you consider that approximately 20% of all Roundup acres had a preemerge product on them last year,” he says. He adds that Domain followed by Roundup UltraMax offers growers a total weed-control package. This year, 10 oz./acre of Domain will cost $7.50, which is less than the price in 2000. Thus, a weed-control program with Domain followed by Roundup will cost less than $16/acre. The dry-flowable product is available in 25-lb. jugs, 1,000-lb. Accu-Bin and 2,600-lb. Accu-Bulk delivery systems. For more information, contact Bayer Corp. Ag Div., Box 4913, Kansas City, MO 64120, 800/842-8020 or circle 208.

Dow AgroSciences. The company introduced a tankmix program called BestShot in 2000. The tankmix consists of 3/10 oz. of FirstRate plus 1 qt. of glyphosate and is particularly effective on morningglory, giant ragweed, velvetleaf and mare's tail. Ag chem retailer Dave Ferch notes, “It usually provided better control than Roundup alone.”

Also new from Dow was Pendimax, a generic form of Prowl containing the same active ingredient pendimethalin. A preplant grass control product, Pendimax does not require incorporation while controlling grasses, including foxtail, johnsongrass, fall panicum, barnyardgrass and crabgrass. For more information, contact Dow AgroSciences, 9330 Zionsville Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46268, 800/208-4094 or circle 209.

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