A new herbicide molecule, a different approach to short stature corn and XtendFlex soybeans are three projects in the Bayer CropScience development pipeline that could have an impact on farms.
Why it matters: There is increasing resistance to current herbicides so a new mode of action will be welcome.
Bayer announced the new herbicide and discussed other new technologies in development during a call with investors and reporters Feb. 13.
New herbicide molecule
The new Bayer herbicide molecule is the first new post-emergence mode of action for broadleaf weeds in 30 years.
The molecule is currently in phase two of early development and the Bayer team hopes the molecule will be commercially launched within the decade.
Phase two focuses on more intensive human and environmental safety studies. Following this phase, will be the development of manufacturing routes and regulatory field trials.
“It will then go through the regulatory approval process by the respected authorities. You can expect to see this product within the end of this decade,” says Axel Trautwein, head of small molecules with Bayer Crop Science in research and development.
The company says the new mode of action is effective on post-emergent control on tough grasses, including those resistant to glyphosate.
“There’s always urgency for growers to have more choice and more options. The biology of weeds is such that they are always attempting to survive and they are always a challenge for growers,” says Bob Reiter, head of research and development with the crop science division of Bayer.
Short stature corn
Bayer’s short stature corn, called Vitala, is in phase three of development. It is expected to use less land and water and will change how the crop is managed.
“I believe this product will transform corn production,” says Reiter.
The hybrid will grow to seven feet tall, meaning more stable plants and easier management of the crop during the growing season.
The reduced height will help to improve plant stability which should reduce crop loss to lodging.
As well, some varieties will have the ability to be planted closer together allowing for more corn per acre with less land and water required.
While short stature corn developed through breeding and biotechnology approaches to short stature corn are advancing to phase three in production, Bayer is also using gene editing to develop short statue corn. Corn using that approach will take longer to get to market.
“With the three approaches we now have increased in confidence that the potential fit for this product has grown to more than 220 million acres,” says Reiter.
Short stature corn developed through the traditional breeding approach will be launched quickest, by middle of this decade in Canada. It is already being used in Mexico.
Short stature corn will enable growers to continue using their existing equipment as the height of the ear is more important than the height of the crop.
“Using advanced technology that we have in our breeding tool kit we are able to ensure the ear height doesn’t get to a level that would create any issues with the equipment a grower would have to harvest the crop,” says Mike Graham, head of breeding within Bayer Crop Science research and development.
“XtendFlex is the next generation of weed control for soybeans and is advancing to launch,” says Reiter.
The commercial availability will depend on regulatory approval timing.
XtendFlex includes tolerance to glufosinate, making it a triple stack built on the foundation of glyphosate and dicamba resistance in Roundup Ready 2Xtend soybeans.
“It promises to provide excellent flexibility in weed control with expectations that this system will control 375 weeds,” says Reiter.
As well, with the inclusion of dicamba, it’s the only weed control system in soybeans to offer 14 days of residual activity.
“We are expecting U.S. acres to be limited this spring, but we anticipate very high demand for the long term,” says Reiter.
Bayer’s fourth and fifth generation of herbicides continue to advance and will be available in the next decade to bring additional weed control flexibility to growers.
The fourth generation had progressed to phase three of development. It will carry the XtendFlex tolerances with additional resistance to HPPD and 2,4-D.
The fifth generation has progressed from phase one to phase two. It offers six herbicide tolerances; glyphosate, dicamba, glufosinate, HPPD, 2,4-D and PPO.
“Technologies like these continue to contribute to our integrated weed management program which is vitally important for sustained and responsible farming,” says Reiter.