COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — Though Monsanto’s newest seed and herbicide products are not yet approved for sale, the company has come up with a companion tool designed to maximize their efficiency.

Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans are genetically modified with resistance to both glyphosate and dicamba. The product is undergoing an environmental impact study by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The company also is awaiting regulatory approval of Roundup Xtend, a herbicide mix containing the two chemicals.

The proprietary product VaporGrip could result in better herbicide coverage while reducing drift, said Sara Allen, a technology development representative with Monsanto. Allen was among those discussing the company’s newest products at a recent field day.

The formulation VaporGrip results in a 95 percent reduction in dicamba volatility.

“VaporGrip prevents dicamba acid from forming,” Allen said. “If it can’t form, it can’t volatilize. It ties up the hydrogen ions. When mixed with water, it prevents formulation of the dicamba acids.”

Palmer Amaranth

Roundup Ready 2 Xtend represents the first introduction of GMO seeds resistant to dicamba and glyphosate.

The product is a response to growing resistance of some weeds to glyphosate. They include waterhemp, marestail, ragweed and Palmer amaranth, a weed making inroads across the state.

“For the last year after samples were submitted, we now show nearly 30 counties across Illinois that had Palmer amaranth, with the majority of those showing resistance,” Allen said. “That’s pretty significant.

“That’s one thing we’re really working on — training and education at all our grower field days, to make people aware of the possible infestations, particularly of Palmer amaranth, so we can identify more quickly and prevent that from spreading.

“After last year’s event I got several phone calls myself to make sure this is Palmer amaranth. You’re increasing awareness, and with that, I’m hoping that we can prevent it from becoming a disaster.”

Palmer amaranth seed can be introduced a number of ways, including on equipment. It also is sometimes present in cottonseed used for dairy cows. In addition, the seed can be distributed by migratory birds traversing the Mississippi Flyway.

The use of herbicides with different modes of action is a strategy designed to reduce the spread of resistant weeds. Monsanto has long warned producers not to depend solely on glyphosate to control weeds.

“We recommend a number of weed management solutions, such as residual use followed by overlapping residuals,” Allen said. “Dicamba fits into that system. It’s not the silver bullet. It’s not a standalone.”

Application Tips

Farmers also were advised on proper application techniques, including use of larger droplets and nozzle selection, avoiding spraying when wind speeds top 10 mph and use of triple rinses.

Application timing is another tool for controlling troublesome weeds. Herbicides should be applied when weeds are no more than 4 inches tall, regardless of the efficacy of the chemical.

“That’s another thing we’re really emphasizing — people spraying early,” Allen said. “They shouldn’t assume that because it’s dicamba it’ll take out these 12-inch disaster situations. They want to spray early to get them before they become hardened off.”