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Using soybean seed traits and herbicides wisely

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When it comes to soybean production, weed control today is more complicated than the days of continuous glyphosate herbicide use, especially because growers have to be aware that their actions can result in even more of a weed mess than glyphosate resistance alone.

Ag retailer agronomists and seed sales representatives throughout the U.S. soybean production area have to convince growers that “integrated,” “balanced” or whatever term used to describe it is necessary to maintain weed control. The terms refer to rotating herbicides with different modes of action, using more than one mode of action per year per field and also taking advantage of seed traits that can assure post herbicide effectiveness.

Doug Clouser, product lead, Beck’s Hybrids, said, “We have taken a somewhat different approach than some seed companies. We are not waiting for weed resistance to happen, we are still trying to be in front of it by helping growers break the cycle of single herbicide overuse.”

The national report used by crop protection companies in planning marketing strategy showed that nationally growers self-reported in 2013 about 70 million acres of crop ground has some type of glyphosate resistant weeds, and 51 percent of the growers reported glyphosate resistance on their farm, noted Allen Gent, U.S. soybean product manager and strategy lead, Bayer CropScience.

Clouser contends that long-term Beck’s customers have heard the horror stories and are listening to the company’s integrated weed control message. Beck’s Hybrids’ sales geography has been Indiana (its home state) and the four surrounding states. It recently expanded into Tennessee as well as Iowa and Missouri.

“We have a fair number of weeds that have been giving guys issues in terms of glyphosate resistance, but, in general I’d say, we have taken an aggressive stance to help farmers be progressive and do something before they have glyphosate weed resistance on their farms. It is a reason that we have been selling LibertyLink soybean seed at a higher clip than some other seed companies.”

Beck’s Hybrids offers Roundup platforms, non-GMO and LibertyLink soybeans. “At the end of the season, all three platforms are very competitive with each other in terms of yields. But, I talk to multiple LibertyLink growers almost daily, and they all tell me the same thing. They are seeing as good or better yield results with LibertyLink seed compared to whatever program they’ve been using in the past.”

Beck’s seed representatives are reminding growers that saving the LibertyLink trait and postemerge Liberty herbicide for soybean production and using preplant residual herbicides in corn and soybean production is a wise move. As Clouser further noted, there are a lot more herbicide options, including post herbicides for corn production.

If a grower can still use Roundup/glyphosate, Clouser said the corn crop is the best option for that herbicide’s use.

Bayer CropScience’s Gent says that he talks extensively to growers and seed company representatives about “fully integrated weed management approaches.”

Gent said, “Today we have LibertyLink and Roundup Ready 2 Yield, but you also see other traits such as Roundup Ready Xtend, Enlist and Balance GT coming. The take-home message to growers is that they need to balance these technologies to make sure they are doing the right thing for good stewardship in weed control. I don’t know how many growers really understand that today. As we go forward, we need to make sure we are balancing all the weed control technology to make sure that we have longevity of these trait and herbicide combinations.”

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