EPA announces 30-day comment period for dicamba tolerance technology

EPA announces comment period for dicamba tolerant cotton, soybean Monsanto says announcement is "critical milesone."

Cotton and soybean farmers are one step closer to having a new tool available for battling hard-to-control and herbicide resistant weeds following EPA’s announcement Friday (April 1) of a 30-day public-comment period for in-crop use of dicamba herbicide with Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans.

Monsanto is encouraging farmers and other agriculture stakeholders to take advantage of this opportunity to support registration for these new technologies.

“Stakeholder comments will make a difference,” said Kim Magin, Monsanto’s director of industry affairs. “Supportive letters are important for regulators to understand the various perspectives from farmers and other agricultural stakeholders.”

Monsanto considers the EPA announcement “another critical milestone toward farmers gaining access to new dicamba weed-management tools,” according to a Friday press release.

“This will be an important tool for growers to target tough-to-control or glyphosate-resistant weeds,” says Miriam Paris, Monsanto XtendFlex launch lead. “These are excellent tools to protect and improve yields.”

Target weeds include glyphosate-resistant broadleaf weeds such as Palmer amaranth, waterhemp and marestail, along with other tough-to-control broadleaf weeds such as lambsquarters and velvetleaf.

XtendFlex cotton includes insect resistance as well as three herbicide tolerant traits—Roundup, glufosonate and dicamba. Cotton farmers had limited access to the dicamba-tolerant varieties last year with commercial launch in 2016. Paris says some 3,000 growers planted Bollgard II XtendFlex varieties in 2015. “Feedback from these growers has been positive,” she says.

Roundup Ready 2 soybeans will offer Roundup and dicamba tolerance in “elite varieties,” this year.

The two chemistry products, XtendiMax, a straight goods dicamba product for tank mixing, and Roundup Xtend, a herbicide premix of dicamba and glyphosate, await EPA approval and are the focus of the public comment. Products also include VaporGrip, a proprietary technology designed to help significantly reduce volatile dicamba compared to commercially available products containing DMA dicamba.

Monsanto announced its commercialization plans for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans in February. Monsanto’s Asgrow, Channel and regional brands, along with Corn States licensees, expect to introduce more than 70 soybean products across eight maturity groups with agronomic traits including resistance to nematodes and phytophthora root rot. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are broadly licensed to more than 100 seed brands.

RESTRICTIONS REMAIN FOR 2015

However, restrictions remain, pending full registration of in-crop use of dicamba. A Monsanto statement explains. “At present, it is a violation of federal and state law to make an in-crop application of any dicamba herbicide product on Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans or Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton as no dicamba product is currently approved for those uses.”

The new technology does not represent new chemistry since dicamba has been used safely and effectively for decades in the United States in corn, wheat, pasture land, fallow situations, conservation tillage acres and for homeowner landscape use.

It also has a long history of international use. Final approval of the new technology will allow farmers to use dicamba in-crop with soybeans tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate and with cotton tolerant to dicamba, glyphosate and glufosinate.

The seed technology has been approved for unrestricted commercial planting since December, 2014, following a USDA assessment of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton.

“Before reaching its decision, the USDA considered nearly 5,000 comments submitted by farmers, academic and scientific experts and other key stakeholders. An overwhelming majority of those who provided feedback during the public comment period voiced support for the trait technology,” Monsanto reports.

Paris says the 30-day comment period represents an important step in making these products available to cotton and soybean farmers, but notes that full-season benefits will most likely not be available until 2017.

“We anticipate four to six months from the date the comment period began for final approval,” she says.

Monsanto strongly cautions growers about in-crop use before registration. “No dicamba product is registered for in-crop use at this time (for XtendFlex cotton or Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans),” Paris says. “We are taking the necessary steps to get these important weed control tools to growers for 2017.”

A draft label, Paris says, is available on the EPA website: http://1.usa.gov/1UYNW01

Monsanto also has provided a tool to aid stakeholders in writing and submitting a comment— RoundupReadyPLUS.com/supportdicamba.

For more information on the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System, visit www.RoundupReadyXtend.com

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