Refuge in the Bag (RiB) has received EPA approval. This new “spin” on the SmartStaxTM technology eliminates the hassle of purchasing and planting a structured refuge – the refuge is already in the bag! While not a new technology (the refuge is still 5%), the change was significant enough to require EPA approval.
There will be significant effort behind the scenes at Renk Seed to seamlessly integrate this product strategy into our lineup. We will be producing seed to create the blended product and intend to be in a position to offer all SmartStaxTM varieties as RiB for the next sales season. In addition, we will have RK619SSTX RIB and RK880SSTX RIB in key locations to demonstrate for our customers. The biggest issues in our seed plant are the requirements to very accurately meter 5% refuge hybrid into each unit of SmartStaxTM and electronically retain the records for each unit so that compliance can be monitored.
The biggest advantage to the Monsanto RiB system is convenience. There is no need to purchase
a separate refuge and get it planted in the right place. Be aware that SmartStaxTM RiB is a true single bag refuge solution compared to the multi bag system currently being offered by a large competitor. Refuge compliance is assured when using SmartStaxTM RiB. Though not a popular topic with all corn growers,
the fact remains that refuge compliance is not 100%. RiB and future generations of RiB will benefit our industry. SmartStaxTM hybrids are Roundup® and Liberty (now Ignite) tolerant and the refuge product will also be produced this way so growers will have the flexibility to apply either herbicide based on need and availability. Growers that plant separate refuge are limited to the herbicide tolerance of the refuge they plant – typically Roundup® or Ignite, but not both.
There are some key points customers should know before next season. SmartStaxTM RiB is a blended product and the labeling will reflect this. This is a bit of a departure for an industry that is built around the pure single cross hybrid. It isn’t clear at this moment whether we will treat both varieties of the blend with the same colorant or color them differently. Another consideration will be the actual process of getting at least 5% refuge product into each bag of seed. The most conservative system would meter each product of the blend into a single bag, assuring that each unit has precise quantities though little real “blending” takes place until the bag is opened and poured into a planter unit. The second system would be to meter and blend small batches before the bagger, which assures a uniform blend in the bag but may not be practical to implement in an existing seed plant.