It seems as though truly new technology does not come along very often anymore. This has certainly been the case for the past few years in soybeans.
With the exception of Valor and Prefix, there really have been no developments in soybean weed control. Even Prefix is a new pre-mix of older chemistry, used in a new way.
So, I have been excited to have LibertyLink soybeans and Ignite herbicide in testing for the past two years. I do not work for Bayer, nor do I have anything against the Roundup Ready technology, but the fact is that we have been relying on one chemical far too long in soybeans. We now have five confirmed glyphosate-resistant weeds in Arkansas as proof of this.
LibertyLink soybeans were recently launched by Bayer in cooperation with its seed partners, US Seeds, for distribution and sale in 2009. It looks like there is enough seed for about 150,000 acres or so.
I will say up front that we at the university have little information on these LibertyLink varieties. In my trials, the beans yielded between 40 and 80 bushels per acre. All my tests were dryland, so yields varied quite a bit.
One thing I can say is that yields were comparable to the Roundup Ready varieties that were in nearby tests. I do not believe there is a yield drag with LibertyLink soybeans. However, until they enter the university testing program, I will say that the jury is still out.
The other thing that university tests will show is salt tolerance, effect of soil type, disease, nematodes, etc. So, we are lacking this information going into 2009. You should try some of these soybeans on a limited basis on your farm the first year and see how they do.
In terms of weed control, Ignite herbicide has performed well. Ignite, however, is not Roundup. I think of it more in terms of how I would apply a conventional herbicide, such as Flexstar. It works much better if you get good coverage and apply it to small weeds.
Ignite is not as readily translocated as Roundup, so you need a droplet spectrum that covers the whole plant as well as possible. This may prove to cause problems. Air-induction tips used for large-droplet, low-drift, glyphosate applications, may not provide the best efficacy for using Ignite.
There may be some growing pains as applicators figure out how to best apply Ignite.
In year one, we will be limited to 44 ounces per acre per year of total Ignite. I will recommend 22 ounces per acre twice as a standard postemergence program. You can go as high as 36 ounces per acre in a single application, but you should do this later in the season only, because that does not leave enough to come back with and stay under 44 ounces per year.
We are looking at higher rates and Bayer is working towards expanding this label.
Residuals look good in LibertyLink soybeans. Starting out your burn-down application with Valor, one of the Valor premixes, or something like Canopy EX in the tank, or coming in with a pre-emergence treatment of Prefix, Authority MTZ, Dual or another, may allow you to delay the first post application.
Without a “pre” applied, you will need to make your first Ignite application about 10 to 12 days after emergence or on 2-inch to 3-inch weeds. Any later and you may not get complete control with Ignite alone. This is especially true for grasses and pigweed, which Ignite can be weak on if applied late.
Ignite is very good on morning-glory, hemp sesbania, small prickly sida, and other broadleaves.
Resistant weeds are definitely a reason to try LibertyLink soybeans and Ignite in 2009. Another reason might be just to rotate a field out of Roundup Ready for a year for resistance management. Some of you are talking about rotating to conventional soybeans for this reason also. LibertyLink would be a better option on pigweed, sicklepod and vine acres than conventional soybeans if you are looking for rotational options.