What is Happening with Xtend® Soybeans

Xtend® soybeans recently crossed their final major hurdle with approval of a Dicamba herbicide labeled for them. This herbicide will go by the name of XtendiMax and is manufactured by Monsanto. BASF is also working on Dicamba herbicide for use with Xtend soybeans. The XtendiMax cost is rumored to be in the $10-12 per acre. If you need to add Roundup, that will be an additional cost.

Now that Xtend soybeans can be sprayed with both Roundup and Dicamba, we expect full speed ahead for Xtend on those hard to control fields that Roundup by itself was no longer containing or not doing a good enough job on.

Being a seed company, we put most of our thoughts into genetics and performance. Having them in full testing, side-by-side with our top-end RoundupReady2Yield soybeans, has allowed us to make an accurate assessment of their performance. What we are seeing looks very positive for Xtend. A quick measure can be seen in how many top finishes Xtend beans garnered in F.I.R.S.T. and State trials. We have 61 to date.

When we start drilling down into the data and looking at them against our RoundupReady2Yield varieties, they look very strong. The standout is the RS207NX which is yielding neck and neck with our RS213NR2, one of the most dominant products in our lineup. The other Xtend superstars are RS357NX and RS317NX, both running with the best those maturities have to offer. Following close behind them are RS306NX, RS276NX, and RS177NX.

These standouts show that Xtend soybeans can yield. In the majority of regions we saw record yields coming off of fields and the Xtend varieties were showing they could reach the high yield levels that the RoundupReady2Yield varieties were.

I am starting to review data for new products, and Xtend is showing a lot of momentum there too. What is important to remember, is that the Xtend insertion does nothing for yield, good or bad. It just adds Dicamba resistance. The challenge from the breeding side is to get the insertion into known genetics and keep the rest of the genetics as close to the parent as possible or to develop new crosses that express desired characteristics just like any elite product on the market. The tools available to breeders are so much more powerful than even 10 years ago. New candidates can be fingerprinted before they are even planted. This allows them to throw out crosses that don’t have key gene packages. This significantly speeds up breeding and reduces in-field screening, which inherently is a long and high rejection process.

As breeding programs turn more fully to Xtend breeding, they will be quickly replacing and surpass RoundupReady2Yield. We are seeing 3-4 bushel jumps in performance from one generation to next right now. This will slow eventually, but I expect Xtend to start outperforming our existing Roundup lines in 2018.

BY ALEX RENK

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