Monsanto Ramping Up Education for Roundup Ready Xtend Technology, New Dicamba Products

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After a year of initial show and tell for the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System – including Bollgard II XtendFlex for cotton – Monsanto is preparing to ramp up their educational efforts in 2014 in anticipation of deregulation for a market introduction in 2015.

A good portion of this year’s efforts will focus on the new dicamba formulations and how they fit into the Xtend system, as well as into current weed management programs.

“We are on track and anticipate a 2015 introduction for Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton, as well as Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans,” said Jordan Iverson, cotton traits marketing manager for Monsanto. “We’re also getting ready for our 2014 training and demonstration season. As we get closer to introduction, we want to reach more people through training and education on weed management systems, as well as how to incorporate this dicamba-based system into those programs.”

In 2013, Monsanto managed educational efforts in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, North Carolina and Texas, specific for the cotton-growing regions. This year, the education program is expanding to 33 total locations across the U.S. – including 15 locations that will include both cotton and soybeans – with a greater emphasis on application stewardship and using the technology within current weed control programs.

“This summer, we’ll focus on applicators and growers – the people who will make the applications to their fields,” explained Iverson. “We want to make sure they are making the right decisions to ensure that application is on target.

“We’ll spend time talking about nozzles and proper droplet size, managing wind speed and ground speed, and choosing the right formulations for the technologies which fall within the overall application requirements,” he added.

Two products have been developed as options with the XtendFlex technology – Roundup Xtend, which is an enhanced low-volatility formulation of dicamba premixed with glyphosate, and XtendiMax, a straight goods dicamba formulation for tank mixing. Both products – which are pending final regulatory approval – contain Monsanto’s new proprietary VaporGrip technology, which is designed to significantly reduce the potential for volatile dicamba as compared to those containing the DMA salt of dicamba.

When a dicamba product is dissolved in water, a natural chemical reaction creates a dicamba acid which can volatize. According to Iverson, the VaporGrip technology prevents that reaction from happening, reducing potential volatility to extremely low levels.

“In our research and development, we focused on DGA salt of dicamba, which is a lower volatility product as opposed to the DMA salt found in some other products,” said Iverson. “With VaporGrip, we’ve been able to take a low volatility product and get the volatility down to even lower levels yet. By reducing the likelihood of volatility, we can give a grower confidence in his application and let him or her focus on managing drift.

“Growers have been very careful in spraying Roundup for a lot of years,” he said. “And there’s nothing unique or changed relating to dicamba. We need to provide training about nozzle selection and droplet size that will be part of the application requirements for these dicamba products. That’s where our educational efforts will focus this year.”

Iverson points out that the new XtendFlex technology will not mean radical changes in current weed control programs. It’s simply another tool for growers to use within the programs already in place in their particular geography which should always begin with a residual herbicide.

“But it’s not just the technology,” said Iverson. “It’s coupling the technology with the right germplasm that fits each specific area. In 2015, pending regulatory approval, we anticipate having germplasm that fits broadly across all cotton markets that we could potentially serve. We feel comfortable with the products we will have available.”

Jim Steadman is Field and Online Editor for Cotton Grower magazine. He has spent more than 35 years in agricultural writing and marketing.
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