January 18, 2022

Beans to beans, growers turning to Enlist for protection

EFFINGHAM, Ill. — In Tony Zerrusen’s territory in southern Illinois, beans matter. It might be soybeans, green beans or soybeans followed by soybeans, but every type of bean has a farmer’s livelihood behind it.

To protect the beans that grow in southern Illinois, more growers are turning to Pioneer’s Enlist weed control system.

“Moving to the Enlist system has lightened our burden considerably,” said Zerrusen, a Pioneer agronomist based in Effingham.

From weed control of tough weeds to maintaining good neighbor relationships and, at the end of the day, achieving high yields, Pioneer’s Enlist system is ticking all the boxes for growers in Zerrusen’s territory.

“Growers are seeing the pros of the Enlist system. You have a strong Group 4 to control the weeds. You have near-zero volatility, with the reduced potential for drift. The buffer zones are much smaller. There are no heat restrictions. With the other chemistry, there could potentially be a calendar spray date cutoff in Illinois. With Enlist, we do not have that. It really opens up a grower’s spray window, on top of being able to control aggressive weeds like waterhemp,” Zerrusen said.

In an area of the state where soybean fields may neighbor a variety of specialty crops, growers have experience with the damage that other herbicides can do to those crops.

“In this southeast corner of Illinois, there is a lot of vegetable production, pumpkins, potatoes, green beans, watermelon and we have a lot of specialty crops as you get closer to the Wabash River. The first year we started using dicamba, we ran into lots of issues with specialty crops,” Zerrusen said.

Zerrusen said the Enlist system, with 2,4-D choline, has helped ease concerns on both sides of the fence.

“Every farmer wants to be the good neighbor. No one wants to have the bad reputation of their herbicide drifting or volatilizing into a neighbor’s crop. We’ve squared up with the Enlist system and it’s been working out fantastically well,” he said.

For growers to stay neighbors, they must achieve yields along with weed control and Zerrusen said the growers in his territory who have moved to the Enlist system are happy with their yields.

“We are seeing fantastic yield results so far this fall. One thing Pioneer is really good at doing is collecting lots and lots of local data. Throughout southern Illinois, we have from 50 to 100 soybean plots, where we test our varieties against our own Liberty, our own Xtend, and against our competition. We get a pretty good gauge of how these Enlist varieties are yielding and we are very pleased with what we see. Enlist varieties of soybeans are coming out on top. We have a handful of Enlist varieties that are outrunning even our previous Pioneer genetics, so we are very excited about that,” Zerrusen said.

One of the rotations where the Enlist system has proven particularly effective is a soybean-on-soybean rotation.

“There are three modes of action in Enlist that are effective with weed control. We have some soils where growers will do soybean on soybean rotations and weed control becomes quite an issue for them. We have seen really good results with Enlist in that setting,” Zerrusen said.

Waterhemp remains at the top of the list when it comes to troublesome weeds in Zerrusen’s southeastern Illinois area. Waterhemp’s prolific seed production makes it an ongoing headache for growers.

“It’s all about getting row closure and getting a clean start and then being able to kill what’s out there. If we are not able to get a clean start, waterhemp has been around long enough that glyphosate is starting to become ineffective. Depending on the time of day, glufosinate can become ineffective, as well,” Zerrusen said.

The Enlist system is allowing growers to continue to keep all the tools in the toolbox for effective weed control.

“With waterhemp starting to build resistance on multiple modes of action, we now have a chance to bring in Enlist and defend our crop a little further out, for a few more years,” Zerrusen said.

Zerrusen emphasized that the key to successful use of the Enlist system is the total system approach.

“If we want Enlist to work, we have to use it in a system. That means layering your pre’s. Starting clean in a field and staying clean. If you can layer your pre-emergent herbicides and use Enlist as a tool to clean up the field, instead of using it as a rescue, then you are doing the product justice, you are doing yourself justice and you are keeping the product effective for the long term,” Zerrusen said.

This column was contributed by Illinois AgriNews for Pioneer.

Jeannine Otto

Jeannine Otto

Field Editor