U.S. 2016 Herbicide Outlook
What’s new for herbicides in the U.S. in 2016? Well, not much, but the learning process is sure to continue for fine-tuning resistance management.
“It’s probably the fewest number of new herbicides we’ve ever had,” says Dr. Mark Loux, Professor and Extension Specialist, Weed Science at The Ohio State University.
If only we could say the same thing about the number of issues growers and dealers are facing. A grower asked Loux recently what the next weed problem is, and he responded: “I think you have your hands full already.”
When it comes to controlling resistant weeds, growers’ questions are not, “how do we do it?” but, “how do I do it and continue to manage my farm in the way that I have been?” says Dr. Chad Brommer, Technical Market Manager for herbicides, BASF.
“With no new sites of action that have been released since the HPPD chemistries, what we’re doing now is what I like to call ‘back to the future’ weed control. The way you control your broadleaf weeds is you don’t even let them germinate,” Brommer says.
Start with a good, clean field with tillage or burndown treatment, and within those preemergent burndown herbicides, the residual component will provide weeks of weed control. This way, the grower has time to get back to the field to make a timely postemergent application to take out any weeds that might have escaped.
“It seems like it’s more complicated, but it really isn’t,” says Brommer. “It’s just thinking about your fields; it’s knowing that when you use a great preemergent product that’s going to burn down those weeds and lay down residual herbicide, it’s buying you time to ensure you can get back and make a timely postemergent application, and that’s true in corn, soybean, and wheat. Timely applications are key. This past year is a really good example — the weather is not going to cooperate with us. The longer we can keep the weeds out by starting with a good preemergent program, the better off we are going to be.”
Adds Loux: “We’re back to the programs we should have used all along, instead of oversimplifying, except that because we have resistance we’re one step above that. For residual programs we have to be more comprehensive, and we have to do a fall application.”
As attractive, simplifying technologies verge on launching, namely the dicamba-tolerant Monsanto Xtend plus Engenia BASF herbicide and 2,4-D-based Dow Enlist systems, he advises people not to stray from their current diversification strategies.
“We don’t want them to go backwards too much,” says Loux. “They may be able to reduce the complexity of their residual use, or in some fields get rid of their fall herbicides, but we’re advising them that the strategy that they have now is the one that’s going to help keep them from developing additional resistance issues.”
One key consideration Loux points to for 2016 is soybean residual premixes, which are not all one-size-fits-all solutions for every weed spectrum. Use caution, he says, because many of them are being developed for Palmer amaranth and waterhemp, but don’t address giant ragweed or marestail at all. With dozens of choices for residual herbicides, pick the correct one so that you get the residual on the weeds you have. For giant ragweed, he recommends premix products that contain chlorimuron-ethyl (DuPont Classic) or cloransulam-methyl (Dow FirstRate); for marestail it is either metribuzin or Valent Valor (flumioxazin) or FMC Authority as the other component. And adding some metribuzin to the flumioxazin or Authority can further bump up marestail control, he says.
The Bottom Line
Growers are sharpening their pencils and sitting down right now to see what happened last year, and gauging the changes needed for 2016, Jeff Carpenter, Corn and Soybean Herbicide Portfolio Manager with DuPont, says.
“There is a little more being spent, and where you’re really going to hear that is in the South or Mid-South, where they are dealing with multiple resistant weeds. They’re discussing now the discovery of PPO-resistant Palmer pigweed,” Carpenter says. The PPO herbicide family has been relied upon heavily in the last several years to control the weed, and so it has people talking in that region of the country. He recommends growers rely on a retailer and local experts to zero in on products that will work best on their fields without breaking the bank — especially in light of the hefty sums being paid out for premium seed.
“If you do it right starting in fall or early spring with a good residual program, and layer that with a good residual program at planting time, normally you only have to scout those fields to determine if you need a third in-crop treatment, and in some cases you may not,” Carpenter says.
Also keep in mind plant population density. Where the field and soil types can stand heavier populations, it can help crowd out the weeds that will try to come in later in the season.
Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science with Penn State, describes how, at one recent conference, he had dealers analyze five different programs for controlling marestail in soybeans, which meant looking at the effective modes of action over simply the number of modes of action. “Once you start working through them instead of just putting a bunch of herbicides in the tank, you can really start to see that it’s important to actually sit down and figure out,” says Lingenfelter. “(Dealers) are used to picking their favorite programs and not thinking about it. Now that we’re having more resistance issues, they are starting to realize they better take another look.”
Carpenter adds: “Now it’s more important than ever to get a good agronomist as part of your team, and then rely on folks like a retail account manager or technical sales agronomist at the farmer level to make good recommendations and get the best pricing.” He reminds that the best deals on crop protection products are found early versus in-season when prices generally go up.
Here is a look at some of the newest herbicides ready to make an impact in 2016:
Used for early postemergence in corn, Armezon PRO is a new premix of two active ingredients from Armezon plus Outlook designed to control both broadleaf weeds and annual grasses. The Outlook provides longer residual activity to manage weeds like waterhemp and Palmer amaranth and get residual grass activity later in
BASF also registered a new liquid formulation, Zidua SC, a herbicide labeled for corn, beans, and spring and winter wheat. Zidua Pro is a liquid premix of Zidua plus Sharpen and Pursuit, and BASF is looking to label it in beans. The company anticipates registration in 2017.
Engenia, the dicamba component of the Monsanto-managed seed and trait Roundup Ready 2 Xtend system, might be registered for cotton and soybeans in time for the 2016 growing season, but Monsanto is up against the same China import approval issue that Dow faces with Enlist.
“This is the most advanced and flexible formulation that we’ve had for this new dicamba-tolerant crop market. Because we have that experience and know how dicamba works and how to use it effectively, we’re really emphasizing the stewardship portion of this herbicide,” says BASF’s Brommer. Monsanto will also offer its own completely separate dicamba formulations for the system, Roundup Xtend and XtendiMax.
The company is at work on DiFlexx Duo, which is a combination of DiFlexx, Laudis and safener. That product is not yet labeled for 2016.
DiFlexx, which it registered in early 2015, is a combination of dicamba and safener labeled for field and seed corn. The safener enables corn plants to better withstand herbicidal activity, and with a liquid formulation, DiFlexx has a wide window of application, from burndown to V10.
When Chinese authorities will give the nod to the Enlist Weed Control System is anyone’s guess. Says John Chase, Commercial Leader for Enlist: “At this time it is difficult to predict the timing of import approvals for biotech traits in China. Dow AgroSciences is actively participating in industry-led initiatives and is directly engaged with the appropriate regulatory authorities in China.”
In 2016, Dow also expects to register Resicore (previously known as GF-3471) for premergence through early postemergence in corn. Resicore will help growers control herbicide-resistant weeds through three non-glyphosate and non-atrazine modes of action. The active ingredients included in this novel formulation are acetochlor, mesotrione, and clopyralid.
In addition, Dow’s Surveil for soybean growers — a premix combining the active ingredients flumioxazin and cloransulam-methyl — received approval for the 2016 growing season.
Trivence, which it launched on a limited scale in 2015, will be expanded in 2016. The product contains three different modes of action in a single jug for soybeans, and will provide both burndown and residual weed control. It is a low use-rate, dry product, and may be applied preplant or postemergence for controlling broadleaf and grass weeds.
Canopy Blend is an improved formulation (Classic plus metribuzin) set to replace Canopy DF for burndown and residual control before or at soybean planting. “Since we reintroduced Canopy in the mid-2000s, here 10 years later, sales continue to expand and grow. We continue to see growth opportunities for Canopy Blend in the foreseeable future even with the advent of dicamba-traited or 2,4-D-traited soybeans,” Carpenter says.
Revulin Q combines Accent plus Callisto (mesotrione) and its Q safener for controlling grasses in addition to broadleaf weeds in specialty corn. “There is a lot of interest in that product, especially for the seed corn producers — they don’t have a lot of options,” Carpenter says.
DuPont is also getting ready for Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant Xtend system for beans with its own low-volatile formulation, dubbed FeXapan. With the product not yet fully labeled, DuPont has been focusing on education and training to help dispel misconceptions about dicamba leading up to the anticipated launch in 2016. “Not all dicamba formulations are created equal,” says Wayne Schumacher, DuPont’s North American Crop Protection Commercialization Manager. “There are some very low-volatility formulations in the marketplace, and that’s what we’re focused on bringing to growers.”
In November, DuPont received tolerance approvals for two of the active ingredients in Zest, a postemergent grass herbicide for sorghum, which is gaining acreage in the U.S. (7.5 million acres this year from 5 million in 2010), driven by Chinese demand for more animal feed and protein sources. Pioneer and Advanta co-developed the non-GM herbicide-tolerant traited seed component, called Inzen. Schumacher expects that product to hit the market in 2016.
One of the latest additions to its product line-up for 2016 is Warrant Ultra, a premix of Warrant and Reflex (acetochlor and fomesafen) for soybeans and cotton. It provides postemergence control of Palmer amaranth and waterhemp as well as broad-spectrum residual weed control.
Of course, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans need approval from China, and herbicide labels have not been approved by EPA for the BASF and Monsanto dicamba products that would be used on them, Engenia (BASF) and Xtend and XtendiMax (Monsanto). Then there is the EPA open comment period that has yet to start. Nonetheless, the preorder process is underway, and President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann said on the company’s most recent quarterly conference call that it sees the technology as a “250 million-acre opportunity across the Americas that extends beyond soybeans and cotton to encompass corn.” Monsanto expects the beans will be grown on more than 3 million acres in fiscal 2016, and has priced the new Xtend varieties at a roughly $5- to $10-per acre premium over Roundup Ready 2 Yield varieties.
Acuron is set to make a bigger impact in 2016 following its debut year, as the lauded preemergent corn herbicide is especially tough on broadleaf weeds, which have soared 50% in the Midwest over the last four years. Dr. Amit Jhala, Assistant Professor and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Weed Management Specialist, has tested the product for two years in field trials. “So far we’ve seen really good activity and efficacy for control of a number of broadleafs and grasses, and glyphosate-resistant weeds that we have in Nebraska including waterhemp, ragweed, and marestail.”
Acuron Flexi, a non-atrazine corn herbicide premix with three active ingredients, including bicyclopyrone, will debut in 2016.
Interline is the company’s post-patent glufosinate formulation, which is equivalent to Bayer’s Liberty 280 and carries the LibertyLink crop label. With glufosinate shortages still affecting the North and Midwest, products like this are expected to be beneficial in 2016. It is labeled on cotton, corn, soybeans, and more.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, consumers are driving an increasing pushback on GM products. “We’re going back to 20 years ago,” Penn State’s Lingenfelter says. “You use a standard bean, but you are still allowed to use herbicides on them. We typically recommend many herbicides we used a number of years ago; a lot of residual programs are soil-applied. Many non-glyphosate [e.g., ALS (group 2), PPO (group 14), and ACCase (post-grass, group 1) herbicides] post programs are being used as well.”
For most growers, however, he expects some level of frustration as to what to apply because of the sheer number of choices and the task of sorting through them to find the ones that are going to work on their farm. Add the intense competition to the mix, and a lot of guys might just throw up their hands and go to their dealer and ask for recommendations.
Although understanding of resistance is extremely high on the farm, managing weeds will continue to be trickier in an enduring rocky commodity price environment. Dr. Kevin Bradley, Associate Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri, says: “One of our biggest fears in what we’re trying to figure out around here, is that there’s only so much money to go around for weed management — it’s less than it used to be because of the commodity prices, and expected commodity prices for next couple of seasons, according to some of the forecasts. It’s going to be a real challenge, and we’re trying to adapt the best we can in our recommendations.”