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Xtend soybeans provide another tool for weed control

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The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genomic Institute recently announced the mapping of the soybean’s genome sequence. Tri-State Neighbor file photo

Producers are expecting big things next year from the new dicamba-tolerant soybeans, the Xtend variety developed by Monsanto.

“It’s almost going to feel like the good old Roundup days again,” Asgrow agronomist Jeff Fuls, said talking during a special session at the Ag Outlook conference hosted by the South Dakota Soybean Association in Sioux Falls earlier this month.

There’s a warning in his message, though. Roundup might have seemed like a cure-all herbicide when Roundup Ready soybeans hit the market in 1996. Now, 20 years later, some weeds have developed resistance to the chemical.

Fuls said producers need to continue to use different modes of action to fight weeds to keep them from becoming resistant to dicamba. Herbicide applicators are reminded to follow labels and apply at the recommended rate.

Xtend soybeans are resistant to both dicamba and glyphosate (Roundup) broadleaf herbicides. The genetically modified bean was approved for imports in China in early 2016 and by the European Union in July.

Monsanto’s Xtend crop system was held up waiting for approval of its dicamba herbicide formulation called XtendiMax with VaporGrip. Dicamba had a volatility issue where it would move through the air to off-target areas. The VaporGrip technology keeps the chemical from turning to acid, which searches for free hydrogen and floats away with it.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved the herbicide in November. States are going through their own approval process. Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota have given the OK, and North Dakota and Minnesota are expected to follow suit before spring.

“It’s been a long process to get approved,” Asgrow agronomist Jeff Spieler said, joining Fuls at the soybean convention.

The company made the most of that time, though. Spieler said it allowed its research team to do more breeding work and add to its list of products. Eight varieties of Roundup Ready Xtend soybeans will be available for South Dakota farmers. Maturities range from 0.9 to 2.1.

“Every extra year of breeding … is going to get better and better,” he said.

Yields between the 2016 and 2017 classes improved in the Asgrow trials.

Spieler said he expects about half of soybean growers to transition to the new Xtend soybeans in South Dakota.

Adam Spelhaug, lead agronomist with Peterson Farms Seed in Harwood, N.D., said he is hearing interest from costumers in the region, especially those who haven’t yet tried Bayer’s Liberty brands.

Spelhaug said sales have been growing for the LibertyLink soybeans that are resistant to Bayer’s Liberty herbicides. The contact herbicides do well to control weeds, especially if a grass mix is added to the tank, Spelhaug said.

He said he expects producers will have the same sort of benefits from the Xtend system. It will be able to take care of weeds that are resistant to Roundup, including kochia, waterhemp and marestail, along with other tough weeds such as lambsquarter and wormwood.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty good product to work with,” he said.

Xtend seeds have genetics that are on par with other soybeans, and in some cases better, according to Spelhaug. One variety he recommends is the 17X09N RR2X with 0.9 maturity. It works well in soils prone to soybean cyst nematode and the Phytophthora mold that causes root rot. It branches and clusters everywhere, and it can be planted in all but the worst iron-deficient soils, according to Spelhaug.

Companies plan to hold training for the new cropping system next spring.

Reach reporter Janelle Atyeo at 605-335-7300, email, or follow on Twitter @JLNeighbor.

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