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Bollgard II XtendFlex Brings More Options to the Field

From Cotton Grower Magazine – May 2015

 

Cotton growers entered the 2015 season with a new option in the battle against glyphosate-resistant pigweed.

The Bollgard II XtendFlex technology came to market amid much anticipation. The trait technology was deregulated by USDA in January, but the wait continues for EPA approval of the dicamba products for over-the-top use.

“We’re openly stating that growers cannot spray dicamba over the top of Bollgard II XtendFlex varieties in 2015,” said Keylon Gholston, cotton products manager for Deltapine. “They can still use both Roundup and Liberty, so these varieties give growers another option in Deltapine germplasm to control resistant pigweed.”

Deltapine rolled out five new Bollgard II XtendFlex varieties (designated as B2XF) as part of the company’s Class of 15. Initial market reception, said Gholston, has not been surprising.

“The feedback we’re getting about the XtendFlex technology overall is extremely positive,” he stated. “These varieties are in genetics that growers need and want, especially during this time of lower cotton prices. The new technology is important. But growers can have confidence in the performance of these varieties from both a yield and fiber quality perspective.

“In today’s world market, not only do we have to grow pounds of cotton, but we have to grow pounds of cotton that the world wants to buy,” added Gholston. “It has to be the right quality. And considering the water and acreage reductions for both Upland and Pima cotton in California, there’s certainly a demand for quality picker cotton that has strength and good length.”

Several other companies, including NexGen and CROPLAN, also have B2XF varieties on the market this year.

With reduced acreage across the Cotton Belt, growers are looking for all of the advantages they can find in the continuing battle against pigweed. During pre-season meetings, some sources estimated that B2XF varieties could be planted on nearly half of the acres in areas of high infestation.

Combined with the GlyTol/LibertyLink varieties from Stoneville and FiberMax, the new Bollgard II XtendFlex additions could potentially increase grower dependence on Liberty – a scenario that has many weed scientists concerned about overuse and potential problems.

“I think we’ve all learned our lesson from relying too hard on one single mode of action,” said Darrin Dodds, Mississippi State University cotton specialist, during the Common Thread luncheon at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in February. “The one thing that’s holding for us is Liberty. But if we keep a heavy reliance on that product, we may start running it into the ground.

“I’m not going to say the prospects for new chemistries and new modes of action are non-existent, but they are slim, at best,” he added. “For the foreseeable future, we’re going to be looking to use the products we currently have, but using some of them in different ways.”

There should be no strain on the availability of Liberty for this season.

“Bayer CropScience has been making significant investments to have sufficient volume of Liberty herbicide to meet the growing demand, including the significant growth of LibertyLink cotton and soybeans,” said David Tanner, Liberty product manager for Bayer CropScience. “Due to capacity expansion over the past years, we have significant product inventory, and retail and distribution channels have inventory at healthy levels.”

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