Shortly after South Korea announced it would accept imported LibertyLink soybeans, Bayer CropScience’s Andy Hurst spoke with Delta Farm Press about the decision, how the technology fits the Mid-South and the need to clear up some misconceptions. Among the LibertyLink/Ignite herbicide product manager’s comments:

On the South Korean decision…

“We’ve been pursuing regulatory approval for LibertyLink traits in Korea since 2006. It’s been a long road. The Koreans changed the regulatory processes and although the country is a relatively small export market for U.S. soybeans, it’s still significant.

“That’s why Bayer and a lot of stakeholders in the Korean decision’s outcome — like the soybean associations and U.S. trade reps — have been involved in a lot of collaboration and coordination in addressing this.

“I’m very pleased that the approval is now in place, prior to planting. That will allow growers and seed companies to have full confidence in their decisions regarding commercial planting as well as seed production.”

On opening overseas markets…

“Soybean exports go to a significant number of soybean markets like the EU, China, the Philippines and others. Any country where a regulatory system exists, we’ve pursued approval for export (of LibertyLink). This was just a way to enable and ensure there won’t be any disruptions in the grain market.

“From a planting standpoint, our goal is to (have LibertyLink be readily accepted) in the United States and Canada initially.”

What about U.S. elevators taking LibertyLink soybeans? That was another concern of farmers.

“That is true. (One major Mid-South grain buyer) had reservations and concerns prior to (the Korean decision). With the approval, we aren’t aware of any grain-buying company with any (LibertyLink) restriction in place.”

(Editor’s note: reached for comment, a representative for the grain buyer said LibertyLink soybeans will definitely be accepted at its facilities.)

Is the LibertyLink seed supply ample for Mid-South varieties?

“Yes, particularly in the Mid-South. The latest maturity we have is a 4.9 that fits especially well in the upper Mid-South or behind wheat. There’s a good supply of LibertyLink seed that’s still available for 2009.

“From a trade perspective the thing that’s exciting to (Bayer), the seed companies and farmers is there is absolutely no yield drag, or lag, associated with the (LibertyLink) trait. It’s been very easy for germplasm originators and variety developers to (provide) high-yielding, LibertyLink varieties. We’re very excited about the agronomic performance (of LibertyLink varieties).

“Additionally, LibertyLink represents the only non-selective alternative to Roundup Ready/glyphosate-tolerant systems. (By using LibertyLink), farmers can continue to maintain all the efficiencies and ease of management they currently enjoy with Roundup Ready varieties. Yet, they have an opportunity to rotate to a new mode of herbicide action that allows them to proactively avoid, or manage, weed resistance.

“(Glyphosate resistance) in Palmer amaranth/pigweed, in addition to marestail, is exploding — particularly in the Mid-South last season.”

Common questions from growers?

“One thing that comes up is how LibertyLink is similar to Roundup Ready and how it’s different? ‘Will it really fit my operation?’

“The two use dramatically different herbicide modes. … But, for the most part, there are a lot more similarities than differences. Both systems (employ) very broad spectrum, non-selective herbicides. The recommendation for timing herbicide applications is no different between LibertyLink and Roundup Ready — just good agronomic practices with timely applications on 3- to 4-inch weeds 10 to 14 days after soybean emergence. Another application is needed before canopy closure. So, the two are very similar.

“Ignite is better on weeds that glyphosate has been historically weak on like smartweed and morning-glory. Ignite also provides a nice way to deal with glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“There is no documented resistance to the active ingredient in Ignite. It’s a great tool for growers to continue to farm as they have been (under Roundup Ready technology) and yet avoid and/or manage weed resistance effectively and with the same management ease and convenience they’re used to.

“Another thing about Ignite is it’s now labeled and registered for use on all LibertyLink crops. It can be used on LibertyLink cotton, LibertyLink corn, LibertyLink canola and as a burndown prior to emergence of non-LibertyLink corn, cotton, canola and soybeans.”

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com