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NorthStar News

Interest Rising as New Soybean Trait Crops Up

By Geoff Geddes

This is the first of two articles on the new Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, which combine the proven yield potential of the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean trait with tolerance to both dicamba and glyphosate. In part one, three seed growers give their initial impressions of this new trait, while part two will include post-harvest comments from these same three growers.

Whether you’re the new kid at school or the new crop on farm, you come in with a lot to prove. Based on the first report card for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, they may soon wind up at the head of the class.

First impressions

At family-run Satrom-Hiam Seed Farm near Page, North Dakota, Ben Hiam – along with his parents and four brothers – raises soybeans, wheat, corn, and edible beans.

“The main reason we’re growing this variety is that it’s the newest technology for producers,” said Hiam, “and since we sell seeds, we need to try them before we sell them.”

It’s early yet, but Ben Hiam likes what he sees so far.

“With the technology these days, companies are incorporating new traits in soybeans, and that’s obvious when you look at the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend variety.”

Visually, the plant really stands out against other soybeans like Roundup Ready 2 Yield and LibertyLink.

“It’s a tall, beautiful plant. With the new varieties, they seem to be factoring in that the more plant you get out there, the more sunlight it gets and the more nutrients it absorbs.”

As a result, Hiam finds that bigger plants with numerous exposed leaves tend to perform better, which bodes well for the prospects come harvest time.

Those first impressions are shared by Dave Hankey at Hankey Seed Company near Park River, North Dakota. He and his wife farm wheat, soybeans, corn, and sugar beets on 5000 acres.

Though admitting that he’ll know a lot more when he harvests them, Hankey is pleased that they appear to be “bushier and more vigorous” than other varieties.

“They look good, and I think they are going to show a yield jump compared to conventional genetics.”

No Beyer remorse

Farming by Kent, Minnesota, Andy Beyer and his nephew run Beyer Seed Farm. He describes the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend plants as looking “impressive in the field, growth-wise, with no major disease issues.”

Moreover, Beyer is pleased by what he doesn’t see.

“I’m happy that this variety has the 3a gene to protect against Phytophthora root rot [a major disease of soybeans], and there don’t appear to be any white mold issues.”

What they’re saying about spraying

While being one of the first to test a new variety is exciting, it also has its drawbacks.

“Unfortunately the technology for the spray hasn’t been approved yet, so we just have to treat it like a regular Roundup Ready soybean,” said Ben Hiam.

From his experience, Dave Hankey found that straight glyphosate worked well. He was a bit disappointed from a weed control standpoint, but added that he “got a lot of rain and had [the plants] at ground zero in terms of excess moisture,” which likely played a part in his weed fighting woes.

What lies ahead?

For now, all three growers seem to be cautiously optimistic.

“My only reservation right now is that they need a delivery option for the herbicide that makes farmers comfortable spraying the plants,” said Hankey. “The Xtend could have some chemical drift issues, and we could just spray the glyphosate, but it would be nice to have the option of spraying the Xtend chemical as well.”

Over at Satrom-Hiam Farms, it’s a similar sentiment.

“In the back of my mind, I’m a bit concerned about how the chemical will work with them,” said Hiam. “I’ve heard stories of drift problems; we won’t know for sure until next year when the approval comes down.”

Still, they are encouraged by the robust appearance and enthused about working with cutting edge technology. And if first impressions are an indicator, “fitting in” as the new crop in town may not be an issue for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans; they could be in a class by themselves.