When it comes to weed control, weeds are winning. There are at least four species showing resistance to every class of herbicide on the market.
In response, Monsanto has brought to market its strong suit: changing the plant, so a different herbicide will kill the weeds and not the crop. They first did this with glyphosate resistant soybeans in 1996 and changed the industry.
Overuse of glyphosate caused weed resistance, so Monsanto bred dicamba resistance into the beans and reformulated dicamba to be less likely to drift onto other susceptible crops.
Last year, the first dicamba resistant soybeans were released. The new herbicide formulation was being adopted, depending on the state. The result was a disaster, especially in Arkansas, due to dicamba drifting onto other crops that are highly sensitive to its characteristics.
The result was an EPA ruling stating that dicamba, regardless of formulation, is a restricted use pesticide. That means the buyer must be a certified applicator and the product must be applied with great care. Record keeping requirements are also elevated.
Monsanto is faced with losing all their investment in Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans and the VaporGrip® Technology they’ve put into dicamba, unless growers embrace the application requirements to achieve their goal of better weed control. A Monsanto spokesman explains their incentives for 2018.