News | October 13, 2017 | Read Time: 7 minutes
Dicamba and the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System
Welcome. We developed this webpage to add our perspective to the ongoing conversation around dicamba. While most of our customers are having great success with our new dicamba product, we have seen some instances where soybean fields are showing leaf cupping symptoms, which could be due to off-target movement of dicamba or other factors. Farmers are the heart and soul of Monsanto and we will continue to do our part to gather the facts, understand the issues, and help our customers use this important crop protection tool successfully. Stay tuned to this webpage for regular updates on our efforts in 2017 and beyond.
First, an Introduction to our Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System
Helping farmers protect their crops from troublesome weeds is a big focus for many modern agriculture companies, including Monsanto. Weeds steal nutrients, water, and sunlight from crops and can ruin a farmer’s harvest. To effectively manage weeds, farmers need access to a variety of crop protection tools and methods.
The Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System is Monsanto’s newest offering to help soybean and cotton growers manage weeds. Farmers have been asking us for this technology for years, and in 2017 our customers are growing the soybean and cotton seeds on more than 26 million acres in the United States. Our new complementary dicamba formulation, called XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology, is being used to help control weeds on most of those acres. The feedback we are hearing from customers is overwhelmingly positive.
Historic Testing of our Dicamba Formulation
Dicamba, the active ingredient in XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology, was first approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1967 and has been used by farmers, homeowners, and others to control weeds for decades. Our new dicamba formulation is unique because it reduces volatility potential by 90% compared to older dicamba formulations like Clarity®.
Before it was approved for use, our dicamba product was comprehensively tested, including extensive testing specifically for volatility and off-target movement. These tests were conducted according to Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standards, which is considered among the highest standard of scientific testing in the world. These tests confirmed the significant reduction in volatility compared to previous generations of dicamba products.
Training and Education for the 2017 Season
To help farmers use our new dicamba product successfully, we worked closely with states and offered a variety of training and education opportunities, including learning events attended by nearly 50,000 growers and others. We continue to hear from many farmers that our training and education efforts helped them use the new technology successfully. Especially in those states where mandatory in-person trainings were held, our customers are having tremendous success controlling weeds and making on-target applications. We will continue to evolve and tailor our trainings to help our customers use the technology successfully in 2018 and beyond (more details below).
Reports of Leaf Cupping
While most of our customers are having great success with our new dicamba product, we have seen some instances where soybean fields are showing leaf cupping symptoms, which could be attributable to off-target movement of dicamba or other factors. This symptomology has been reported on less than 1% of soybean fields across the country. There may not be any yield impact on those fields, but, like many others in the agriculture community, we are working diligently to understand the cause of these symptoms. After all, helping farmers grow healthy crops is what we do.
We continue to ask all customers who notice leaf cupping to call 1-844-RRXTEND so we can send agronomic specialists to walk the fields and review the symptomology together. Of the more than 1,287 (as of Sept. 26) customer inquiries we have reviewed to date, we have not seen any evidence that volatility of our dicamba product is the issue. This is consistent with our findings from the 1,200 field and laboratory trials conducted before launching the product.
Based on our reviews, the main causes of off-target movement of XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology are things like inadequate buffers, unapproved nozzles, and wrong boom height. Importantly, all the reported factors are addressable through training and following the label instructions.
Other potential causes of symptomology, such as illegal use of unapproved products and potential product contamination, are not reflected in our reviews because these are not related to the use of our product. Also, since we did not sell our dicamba product in Arkansas this year, we did not have any customer inquiries on XtendiMax® with VaporGrip® Technology in the state. Notably, there are 8 adjoining counties in Arkansas that have recorded 62 percent as many inquiries as were made to the agriculture departments of all the other states combined. Officials in Arkansas are in the process of making a decision about dicamba in 2018. The next step is an Arkansas State Plant Board public hearing in early November to discuss these recommendations from the dicamba taskforce in Arkansas. On Sept. 7, we filed this petition with the Arkansas State Plant Board to prevent the unwarranted recommendations from being implemented, and we will continue our efforts to help ensure Arkansas farmers have access low-volatility dicamba products in 2018.
We will continue to do our part to help gather facts, diagnose the causes of the symptomology, and develop solutions. We encourage all those investigating the symptomology to consider all the facts before making conclusions, recommendations, or decisions that could impact the future of this important crop protection tool.
Looking Forward to 2018
In 2017, the second year of commercial launch, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® soybeans represent about a quarter of all soybeans acres planted by farmers in the United States. Based on grower demand, we plan to have enough supply available for farmers to plant twice as many acres next season.
On Oct. 13, 2017, the EPA announced enhancements to our XtendiMax® product label that will help ensure farmers have even more success with the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System in 2018. The updates, which were voluntarily proposed by Monsanto and are supported by the EPA, include mandatory training, new recordkeeping requirements, and a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) designation, which will limit sale and use to certified applicators or those acting under their supervision.
Beyond the label enhancements, we are taking a variety of steps to help our customers use this weed management system successfully in 2018, including:
- Evolving and tailoring our trainings based on learnings from 2017
- Distributing spray nozzles at no cost that are compliant with product label
- Continuing to offer an incentive of up to $6 per acre when applying XtendiMax® through Roundup Ready PLUS® Crop Management Solutions
- Setting up technical support call center to help applicators easily access information on best practices and application requirements
- Working to develop spray App for applicators to help them avoid problematic weather conditions to achieve on-target applications
- Supporting flag the technology by offering free Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System flags to growers
- Developing retailer operations best management practices initiative
We will continue to collaborate with farmers, retailers, state regulators, the EPA, academics, industry associations, and others to share ideas, gain insights, and prepare for a successful 2018 season. Now is the time to come together.
As Monsanto Chief Technology Officer, Robb Fraley, emphasized in a recent open letter, we are fully committed to supporting and staying in close communication with our customers at every step of the growing season. We invite customers with questions, feedback, or concerns to reach us at 1-844-RRXTEND.
Stay Tuned to this Webpage
We developed this webpage to add our perspective to the ongoing conversation around dicamba this season. Stay tuned to this webpage for regular updates on our efforts in 2017 and beyond. We also invite you to check out our “Follow A Field” video series to see some examples of the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System in action this season.