Developed for resistance to 2,4-D herbicide technology, and building on the glyphosate-tolerant system, the Enlist Weed Control System is slated to be introduced in cotton in the 2016 growing season. Company representatives say those plans haven’t changed, despite developments related to the technology’s introduction.
In the spring of 2013, USDA announced its intentions to prepare an environmental impact statement for Enlist corn and soybeans (but not cotton) “to better inform decision making regarding the regulatory status of crops genetically engineered to be resistant to 2,4-D.” Still, representatives at Dow say they are proceeding as planned with regards to their new technology, and that Enlist cotton is right on track.
“We anticipate a 2016 launch for Enlist in cotton, pending regulatory approvals,” says Jonathan Siebert, Ph.D., Enlist field specialist for Dow AgroSciences.
“Right now we’re spending a tremendous amount of effort on preparing the marketplace for the launch of these technologies, and a big part of that is the educational process. We’re trying to teach people about proper use of the technology, stewardship and weed resistance management,” Siebert says.
The company is laying out a strategic, multi-platform plan to educate growers on the technology. In the past two years, Dow has conducted technology centers throughout the Midwest as Enlist has been preparing for release in other crops. In 2014, the company plans to bring five such technology centers to key Cotton Belt locations – one each in North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, as well as in Lubbock and College Station in Texas.
“We’ll talk about crop tolerance with the Enlist traits, we’ll talk about rotating modes of action, rotating crops and using cultural practices,” Siebert says. “And we’ll spend time talking about the Enlist Weed Control System, and the proper application, parameters, nozzle types and wind speed.”
Siebert says that part of the message he and his colleagues will try to convey are the technology advancements within the Enlist Weed Control System.
“There is technology that’s built into Enlist Duo herbicide called Colex D technology, and that helps us minimize the potential for off-target movement,” Siebert says, referencing Dow AgroScience’s proprietary blend of glyphosate and new 2,4-D choline. “And when we take that drift reduction technology that’s in Enlist Duo herbicide, and couple that with a drift reduction nozzle, we can get drastic reductions in drift potential compared to a tank-mix of traditional 2,4-D and glyphosate.”
And of course, Siebert and his colleagues will be reassuring cotton growers that the system is very effective against cotton’s major weed pests.
“We feel very confident about the broad spectrum of weeds that we can control, but we realize that it’s not going to be a silver bullet,” he says. “It’s not going to be a single product to solve all of our problems. It’s another tool to be used in conjunction with foundation herbicides and other modes of action to address the weed control problems that we’re having today.”
As of early March, Dow had submitted its packet for Enlist cotton, and the company was waiting for USDA to publish that the packet had been received. At that point, an initial comment period would be opened for growers and other agriculture industry professionals to voice their opinions on the technology to USDA. (Editors Note – USDA has closed the comment period for Enlist due to strong industry support.)
For now, the company continues to test to make sure the technology will be available in good, high performing PhytoGen cotton varieties by the time the Enlist Weed Control System is given the green light by USDA.