Last May, South Korea announced it would accept LibertyLink soybeans and the new technology appeared on the verge of a breakout.

Andy Hurst, Bayer CropScience product manager for Ignite and the LibertyLink trait, was excited at LibertyLink’s acceptance.

For more, see LibertyLink soybeans set for Mid-South.

Now, nearly a year later, Hurst remains a cheerleader for the technology and says farmers are adopting it at a rapid clip. Hurst spoke with Delta Farm Press in late March. Among his comments:

On an Ignite price drop…

“We’re pretty excited to pull this off in time for the season. Basically, we’re reducing the price in the range of 20 percent.

“The cost of Ignite to the grower, we expect, will go from $10 or $11 currently to between $8 and $9.”

Any response yet?

“Well, there’s a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in the market: LibertyLink soybeans are essentially sold out and the utility of Ignite is expanded. There are 35 million acres of corn hybrids with LibertyLink traits. All Bt corn hybrids containing the Herculex, Agrisure CB/LL, and the SmartStax Bt packages include LibertyLink.

“In addition, there’s a new label for using Ignite as a burndown prior to non-LibertyLink crop emergence. In other words, it is approved for use in front of Roundup Ready cotton, soybeans or corn. That has really impacted use intentions positively, too.”

On keeping the LibertyLink technology viable…

“We always have promoted — and will continue to — a good, integrated weed management program. That includes all the aspects: crop rotation, starting clean, rotating herbicides. Now, with the launch of LL soybeans, the corn hybrids and new cotton varieties adapted well for the Mid-South, growers are in a position to adopt LL on a multi-crop basis and rotate herbicide-tolerant traits.”

In recent years, “there’s been no way to rotate away from use of glyphosate in cotton and soybeans. Until now, that is.

“From a weed resistance management standpoint, we’ve always advocated using complimentary, residual herbicides in a LL program. Residuals can be used during burndown, at planting, or tank-mixed with a post-emergence application of Ignite. That’s key in our recommendations for all LL crops.”

Expecting a big move to LL crops in the Mid-South?

“Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth simply exploded in the Mid-South in 2009. From a Mid-South perspective, most of the companies with LL soybeans are nearly sold out. We’re also looking at a significant bump for FiberMax LL cotton in the Mid-South.

“There are quite a few spots in the Mid-South where glyphosate no longer has utility as a herbicide. That’s disastrous. Glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerance revolutionized not only weed management but also crop production with reduced tillage, less labor and less equipment. To lose glyphosate would negatively impact crop production in all major row crops.

“Folks that write for (Delta Farm Press) like Bob Scott, Ford Baldwin and Ken Smith are on top of weed resistance in the region. They tell growers they need to address (resistance) and they’re right.

“The best way to keep (these technologies) is to diversify herbicide use, rotate to a LL crop and keep glyphosate viable for longer. Growers haven’t had that opportunity before.”

On the proper mindset…

“Roundup Ready has been so phenomenal as a tool — and in the varieties and hybrids that are planted — that it’s very difficult for a grower to say ‘I’ll proactively change what I’m doing even before weed resistance shows up on my farm.’

“But that’s not the right mindset. The best way to manage weed resistance is never to get it. Ignite and LibertyLink varieties will help keep resistance off the farm.”

On protecting con-till practices…

“In the Mid-South, where there are so many big fields and farms, one common question from growers is: ‘how can I plant LibertyLink and deal with the potential, or threat, of having glyphosate drift and injure my LibertyLink crops?’

“Well, there’s a really progressive grower in Arkansas who accommodated that (situation) while growing LibertyLink soybeans and LibertyLink cotton.

“He realized that most all corn hybrids with LibertyLink also are stacked with glyphosate-tolerance or Roundup Ready traits. So, the grower used corn as a buffer for his LibertyLink crops. That’s a great idea.

“This farmer is a good example of someone who has practiced good rotation and used LibertyLink as a tool to rotate herbicides. By doing that, he’s been able to maintain his conservation tillage practices. Meanwhile, his neighbors have had to go back to some sort of tillage to control pigweeds.

“Preservation of con-till practices in the face of booming weed resistance will be a big issue in the immediate future. There are already discussions among the EPA and USDA about regulating herbicide use to accommodate better diversity.

“We’re trying to promote the idea that with LibertyLink technology, growers can rotate and make it work without federal mandates. I believe our industry would be better served if there were incentives — maybe the Soil Conservation Service, as an example, could provide incentives to growers who practice approved integrated weed management programs on their farms and preserve conservation tillage.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com