Bayer CropScience news release

Conventional wisdom says the most important sale is the first one. Savvy marketers, however, understand that the repeat sale is what proves product success and validation of performance.

Manufacturers can use everything from sales incentives to deep discounts to encourage retailers and consultants to recommend their product once. But there is only one way to get them to recommend it the following year: "Performance," said Nathan Fitzgerald, a consultant and retailer with Farmers Union Oil in Napoleon, N.D.

He won't get an argument from Travis Larson, a retailer and consultant with The Arthur Companies Inc. in Harvey, N.D. "The biggest thing we want to see coming off Year One with a new product is how well it performs under all conditions," he said. "After performance, crop safety also is very important."

Of course, the first step in evaluating performance is defining what that word means - and what growers expect. When it comes to broadleaf weed control in cereal grains on the Northern Plains, retailers and consultants know exactly what is needed.

As no-till acreage increases, so does the spectrum of hard-to-control weeds and grasses. "You name 'em, we got 'em - dandelion, Canada thistle, kochia and marestail," Fitzgerald said.

That requires a herbicide that not only controls tough broadleaf weeds but also can be tankmixed conveniently with a material that controls grasses.

Because growers had been using the same modes of action for more than two decades, many weeds had become resistant to ALS inhibitors. "ALS-resistant kochia is the number one problem," Larson said. "Wild buckwheat is number two, with additional marestail problems."

Growing conditions in Montana and the Dakotas are anything but predictable. Rick Marsh, a retailer with Southwest Grain in Dickinson, N.D., was looking for a product that performs consistently in any environment. "The 2008 season had dry conditions," he said. "The fields didn't have the best canopies, making the plants more vulnerable to weed competition."

As it turns out, the dry weather across much of the Northern Plains made 2008 an ideal year to evaluate a new herbicide. "Generally speaking, the herbicide has to work harder when plants aren't actively growing," Marsh said. "If anything, it's harder to kill the weeds."

Marsh, Fitzgerald and Larson all had an opportunity to try Huskie herbicide from Bayer CropScience last year. Huskie controls 50 hard-to-manage broadleaf species and suppresses 20 others, including many that are ALS-resistant. All three believe Huskie met the rigorous standards they set for new products.

"I decided to offer Huskie commercially because I liked the fast burndown and good control it showed in our 2007 trial," Fitzgerald said. "In 2008, Huskie was the number one product we offered customers who were battling ALS-resistant broadleaf weeds on their cereal acres."

Larson saw similar results. "It's beneficial to my clients to have one product in one package that takes care of a broad spectrum of broadleaf weeds," he said. "Overall, I plan to recommend Huskie to more customers and on more acres in 2009."

Marsh likes the way the product performed under tough conditions. "In 2008, we promoted Huskie as our primary broadleaf control solution, and it proved itself well," he said. "If it can perform that well in dry conditions, we know it will do even better in normal growing conditions."

The dry conditions that made weed control so difficult in 2008 also kept disease pressure in check. Retailers and consultants are eager to take a look at new Prosaro fungicide from Bayer under more normal conditions this year. As with any new product, they will recommend it only if it performs, but Fitzgerald believes it will live up to his expectations.

"Bayer delivers solid chemistry that continues to outperform the competition while giving the farmer exactly what he needs to maximize his yield and profit potential," he said.