Indications are that Monsanto is worried that farmers will be using dicamba herbicide products over the top of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans illegally, and that wouldn’t make the Environmental Protection Agency happy. To avoid farmers being tempted to break the law, Monsanto needs EPA approval of this specific dicamba postemerge in-crop use, but that isn't likely to occur in time for 2016 dicamba use.

A 30-day step leading to possible approval has just begun. April is the public comment period regarding the in-crop use of dicamba herbicide with Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, and Monsanto is encouraging farmers, any agricultural stakeholders and consumers in favor of the EPA approving dicamba products for this use to voice their support. But the process for registration of dicamba use apparently has many weeks to go even if there is overwhelming support for such registration by agricultural stakeholders.

Opening the approval process to comments is “another critical milestone toward farmers gaining access to new dicamba weed-management tools,” Monsanto noted. At present, it is a violation of federal and state law to make an in-crop application of any dicamba herbicide product on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans or Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton as no dicamba product is currently approved for those uses.

“A limited commercial introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex Cotton took place in 2015 with commercial launch in 2016. Monsanto announced its commercialization plans for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in February. Monsanto’s Asgrow, Channel and regional brands, along with corn states licensees, expect to introduce more than 70 soybean products across eight maturity groups with agronomic traits including resistance to nematodes and phytophthora root rot. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are broadly licensed to more than 100 seed brands,” Monsanto explained in a news release.

Monsanto contends that dicamba has a decades-long history of safe and effective use in the U.S. and 25 other countries in corn, wheat, fallow and pasture land, conservation tillage acres, as well as homeowner uses.

Following final approvals, farmers will be able to use dicamba in-crop with soybeans tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate and with cotton tolerant to dicamba, glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides.

“Stakeholder comments will really make a difference,” said Kim Magin, Monsanto’s director of industry affairs. “Supportive letters are important for regulators to understand the various perspectives from farmers and agricultural stakeholders.”

In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded an assessment of the Monsanto soybeans and cotton with the dicamba-resistance trait and authorized those crops for unrestricted commercial planting. As part of that assessment, the USDA received nearly 5,000 comments submitted by farmers, academic and scientific experts and other key stakeholders. An overwhelming majority of those who provided feedback during the public comment period voiced support for the trait technology, Monsanto reports.

The EPA is now accepting public comments. Monsanto has provided a tool, which can be found at RoundupReadyPLUS.com/supportdicamba, to aid persons in writing and submitting a comment.

More information on the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System is at RoundupReadyXtend.com.