BY JIM TORKELSON, Northern Iowa District Manager
As a farmer, we know that it takes a variety of tools to do your job effectively, and no matter what part of the country in which you farm, weed management in soybeans is a yearly challenge. The mid 90’s brought about the age of Roundup resistant soybean and corn products, which made weed management very simple. Two decades later, some weeds have adapted and become much more difficult to control.
Believe it or not, prior to 2004 Monsanto was working on the development of dicamba resistant soybeans in an effort to provide farmers with another tool to use against these tough to control weeds. Finally, in 2017 farmers got the opportunity to utilize these beans firsthand. The results? Weed control has been outstanding across 20 million acres of this brand new technology system. But, there were a few hiccups along the way.
Experience Thus Far…
The main challenges of the Xtend system have been the result of two issues. First, spray applications in which the label was not followed resulted in subsequent off target drift. Secondly, contamination issues that relate to tank clean-out, contaminated transfer tanks, and improper rinsing of the sprayer tank and lines. Consequences of the above practices generally are moderate soybean cupping of new growth leaves for typically 2-3 sets of new trifoliates in beans without the Xtend trait. This generally disappears within 10 days to two weeks.
Why Should I Use Xtend Soybeans?
The first reason is excellent broad spectrum broadleaf weed control. Currently, there is not one other herbicide that will effectively control waterhemp, lambsquarter, giant ragweed, velvetleaf, and other broadleaves as well as dicamba. In the past, Roundup controlled these weeds as well as grasses quite well, but today Roundup has less success on many of the broadleaves listed earlier, while still maintaining good control of grass.
A second reason to use Xtend soybeans is the wide application window. If you look at the label, XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® technology can be applied up to 4 times per growing season – from pre-plant to R1! Many herbicides we are currently using have cutoff dates for application, thereby limiting when they can be used. As an example, Flexstar® (fomesafen) has been very effective at controlling waterhemp. It can be used in a pre-emerge program as well as a post, but the issue is the replant intervals; for corn following soybeans, it is 10 months! For alfalfa seeding following Flexstar® treated fields, it is an astounding 18 months! So if you intend to plant corn in May of the year following soybeans, it must be applied by July 1st of the previous planting year to allow for the ten month interval. For alfalfa, you must wait a year and a half to seed if you are following soybeans treated with Flexstar®.
A third reason and maybe the most important, is crop safety. There is no herbicide impact on your Xtend beans, they keep right on growing following the labeled herbicide application. Also, if you are a grower concerned about potential drift from neighbors who may be using the Xtend system for their soybeans, what better way to protect yourself than by planting Xtend soybeans on your adjacent fields, even if you plan on using a different herbicide system for your own soybean fields? Another selling point to this practice, is it allows you the opportunity to do “rescue treatments” for any weed patches that may escape your current herbicide system on your own fields, without damaging your beans with a late application of a harsh product like Cobra®, as long as you are following the label.
In addition to crop protection from drift, consider this: there are currently several relatively new corn herbicides that contain dicamba in them. If you have fields that are split with both corn and soybeans, it might be a wise practice to use Xtend soybeans to help with potential drift within your own field if you plan on using one of those herbicides containing dicamba on your corn. Again, you need to read and follow the label, but many have seen the advantage of this practice already in 2017.
Just like any new technology that rises in agriculture, Xtend soybeans and the herbicide system used with them require us to pay attention to details and be diligent in reading and following the labels. Many of the issues you hear about today are the result of improper herbicide use, contamination issues on farm, and just not following the label recommendations, all of which are spread in a constant stream of media overkill just to create a sensational story. The vast majority of the farmers who followed the label and used the Xtend system as directed have had only positive results.
There are currently three commercially available dicamba herbicides on the market for use on Xtend soybeans. I encourage anyone with questions to consult your DSM, your ag chemical retailer, and your spray equipment supplier to get the appropriate plan for using this new and highly effective weed management tool on your farm.
For more information on application usage, I encourage visiting the following website: xtendimaxapplicationrequirements.com.