You won't see much that's totally new in the lineup of “new” corn and soybean herbicides for 2002.

That doesn't mean you won't find valuable new tools among the latest crop of weed-control products.

Let us explain. First, several new products were introduced in only certain areas of the Midwest in 2001, either because EPA registrations came late, or because manufacturers decided to test the market in 2001 before making a bigger push this year. So if you were not in a test market area, you may not have had a chance to try a new chemistry, though you may have seen it in area field trials.

On another level, the active ingredients in some of the new entrants for 2002 are the same as those in products already on the market, either in refined forms or mixed in new combinations. So you may already have a starting point for evaluating whether a new product will fit your farm.

These derivative products fit a recent trend in herbicides, notes Bob Hartzler, an extension weed scientist at Iowa State University.

“In the past, companies looked for a gap in the market and attempted to fill it,” he says. “Today, most of the gaps are filled, so now they are looking for a product that fills in their product line.”

This enables a company to take a portfolio-based marketing approach that offers enticements to buy a range of the company's products to solve as many weed-control and other management needs as possible.

“The market is getting more competitive,” Hartzler adds. “The companies realize that, to compete, they have to offer total programs.”

The bottom line: A new product may not be dramatically superior to others already on the market. But when viewed in the context of a company's entire herbicide portfolio — and related marketing programs — it may be part of a package that provides the most economical solution to your weed-control challenges.

Here's a look at what's new for 2002.

Corn herbicides

A new mode of broadleaf activity. Syngenta's Callisto herbicide uses a new mode of action to provide both contact and residual activity on a wide spectrum of broadleaf weeds in corn.

Callisto almost missed the 2001 season after receiving registration in early June. But last spring's wet weather, which delayed planting and postemergence weed-control applications, allowed growers in select geographies to give it a try. It will be available throughout the Corn Belt in 2002.

Post grass control with re-cropping flexibility. Option herbicide from Aventis Crop Science will be the only truly “new” corn herbicide on the U.S. market in 2002, assuming it receives EPA registration before planting, as expected.

The postemergence herbicide controls a broad range of annual and perennial grasses, plus several important broadleaf weeds. Like other sulfonylurea herbicides, it controls weeds systemically and has a low use rate — 1.5 oz./acre. It has minimal soil residual activity.

One characteristic that sets Option apart from sulfonylurea competitors is its rotational flexibility, says Mark Bishop of Aventis. The company anticipates that the Option label will allow rotation to all major field crops the following year. In many cases, restrictions are expected to be much shorter — 14 days for soybeans and 60 days for sugar beets, for example.

“As you go north and west in the Corn Belt, growers use more total post programs, but they also are very sensitive to rotation restrictions,” Bishop says. “Option corn herbicide gives growers a tool for controlling tough grass and broadleaf weeds without compromising planting flexibility the following year.”

In addition to its fit on rotation-sensitive acres, Bishop says Option will be recommended as part of a planned preemergence/postemergence program with Aventis's Balance Pro and Define herbicides.

Option's list of controlled grasses includes barnyard grass, foxtails, johnsongrass, wild proso millet, wild oats, fall panicum, shattercane and volunteer cereals, as well as key perennials, such as quack grass, wirestem muhly and rhizome johnsongrass. It also controls tough multiple-flushing grasses, such as large crabgrass, woolly cupgrass and field sandbur.

Broadleaf weeds on the control list include jimsonweed, wild mustard, eastern black nightshade, redroot pigweed and velvetleaf. It suppresses common cocklebur, common lambsquarters, common and giant ragweed and common sunflowers.

Aventis expects the Option label to allow it to be applied on corn up to the V5 stage, or about 16 in., with good crop tolerance.

Option will be formulated as a wettable granule and will be available in 30-oz. bottles, enough for 20 acres at the 1.5-oz. rate.

Option also is labeled for soybeans and several other crops. The herbicide should be available across the Corn Belt, assuming timely registration.

Refined active ingredient lowers use rate. Supplies of Outlook and Guardsman Max were limited in 2001, so most growers will have their first look at the two new herbicides from BASF this year.

The preemergence herbicides contain the same active ingredient — dimethenamid-P — which is a refined form of the active ingredient in Frontier. Outlook provides grass and small-seeded broadleaf weed control without atrazine. Guardsman Max contains atrazine at 2.67 lbs./gal. to broaden and strengthen its weed-control spectrum.

“Our new active ingredient is more available and more effective at controlling weeds,” says Mark Storr, BASF technical manager. “That's why the use rate is lowest. It provides more consistent grass control and superior broadleaf performance than other brands.”

The new active ingredient is roughly twice as concentrated as ingredients in competitive brands. For example, the recommended use rate for Outlook is 10 to 21 oz./acre, depending on soil type. It also is less tied to soil particles, so more of it is available to control weeds. In addition, it requires less moisture for activation, Storr says.

The Outlook label lists a broad range of grass and small-seeded broadleaf weeds, including foxtails, barnyard grass, crabgrass, red rice, seedling johnsongrass, and fall and Texas panicum. Key small-seeded broadleaves include various pigweeds, common and tall waterhemp, nightshade species and yellow nutsedge. It also suppresses woolly cupgrass, wild proso millet, common lambsquarters and common ragweed. Atrazine in the Guardsman Max formulation strengthens control of some grasses and broadleaf weeds, including jimsonweed, lambsquarters, nightshade and waterhemp.

Outlook is labeled for use on field corn, popcorn, seed corn, sweet corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, peanuts, dry beans and grass grown for seed. It also could get a Section 18 label for use in sugar beets in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Guardsman Max is labeled for use in field corn, popcorn, seed corn, sweet corn and safener-treated grain sorghum. Neither herbicide has significant rotational restrictions except those normally associated with atrazine.

Growers who use the new products will find the new formulation easy to work with, says Kent Stickler, Guardsman Max market manager.

“Our formulation goes into solution quickly and stays in solution longer than competing brands,” Stickler says. “It is less viscous and easier to handle.”

Outlook and Guardsman Max are available in 2- × 2.5-gal. cases, as well as bulk and mini-bulk containers.

Season-long post grass control. Steadfast, from DuPont, offers a one-two contact and residual grass-control punch to control tough grasses such as woolly cupgrass, sandbur, barnyard grass, quack grass, shattercane and johnsongrass, as well as more mundane species such as foxtails. It also controls certain broadleaf weeds, including Powell amaranth, jimsonweed, annual morningglory, redroot pigweed, Pennsylvania smartweed, common sunflower and wild mustard.

The sulfonylurea herbicide was available in limited quantities in 2001. Supplies were concentrated heavily on the northern and western edges of the Corn Belt, where total postemergence weed-control programs are strongest. Trial amounts were available in the heart of the Corn Belt as well, says Brian Kjergaard, corn product manager for DuPont Crop Protection.

“We took Steadfast to the market with the initial focus of the northern Midwest because of their orientation to postemergence grass control and the tough-to-control grasses there,” Kjergaard says. “We plan to significantly increase product availability in 2002.”

Steadfast's active ingredients — nicosulfuron and rimsulfuron — will be familiar. They are among the ingredients in DuPont's Accent Gold and Basis Gold. Steadfast contains a 2:1 ratio of the two actives (compared to a 1:1 ratio for the “Golds”) to boost its contact power, Kjergaard says.

Unlike the Golds, Steadfast doesn't include a premix partner to handle a more complete broadleaf weed spectrum. Steadfast is labeled for tank mixing with a wide range of broadleaf herbicides, including atrazine, Clarity, Distinct, Hornet and Marksman. Callisto is expected to be on the mix list by the 2002 season, pending EPA approval.

The recommended use rate for Steadfast is ¾ oz./acre and typically costs about $15/acre. To help assure accuracy when mixing, retailers will dispense the herbicide from a highly accurate (± 0.1 oz.) bulk unit into jugs that hold up to 64 oz., enough for 85 acres. Jugs come with measuring cones, or dealers can custom-fill jugs to match growers' needs, Kjergaard says.

DuPont recommends applying Steadfast three to five weeks after planting, when grasses and broadleaf weeds are 1 to 3 in. tall. Controlling grasses early reduces competition for moisture and nutrients. Rainfall to activate the herbicide's residual control is also more likely at that time, Kjergaard says.

Most field crops can be planted the year after Steadfast is applied. However, sugar beets cannot be planted for 18 months. DuPont will market DPX79406, an unnamed, but labeled, herbicide containing the same amount of rimsulfuron, but less nicosulfuron, to growers in rotation-sensitive geographies. The company will collect replant data during the 2002 season to further refine the sugar beet rotation interval.

Soybean herbicides

Cobra with a safety edge. Phoenix contains the same active ingredient, lactofen, that Cobra does. But its manufacturer, Valent USA, altered the formulation technology to improve crop safety, says Shinsuke Shojima, the company's market segment manager.

Phoenix will be marketed in select areas where growers have been attracted to other safened diphylether products, such as Flexstar, but want extra application timing and rotational flexibility, Shojima says.

Valent recommends that Phoenix be applied early, about two to three weeks after planting. But it can be applied through flowering without risking soybean yield or injury to corn planted the following year.

In some situations, growers will see minor crop response to Phoenix, but it will be much less than with Cobra under the same conditions. “It is similar to Flexstar in crop safety,” Shojima adds.

Like Cobra, Phoenix controls weeds such as waterhemp, ragweed, pigweed and black nightshade. It can be tank mixed with popular herbicides, including Select, Classic, FirstRate or Raptor. In a tankmix with glyphosate products on Roundup Ready soybeans, it also provides effective control of morningglory, waterhemp, black nightshade and ragweeds.

A typical use rate is 8 to 12 oz./acre. An emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formulation, it will be available in 1-gal. jugs. Pricing had not been determined at press time.

A new burn-down partner. Valent USA is promoting Valor for enhanced burn down of tough broadleaf weeds when applied in a tankmix with glyphosate products prior to planting soybeans. At higher rates, it provides residual control of important broadleaf weeds and suppresses some grasses.

Its utility as a burn-down partner has been recognized by Monsanto, which has included Valor as an approved burn-down tankmix partner with Roundup UltraMax through the Roundup Rewards program, says Valent's Shojima.

The active ingredient in Valor is flumioxazin, a protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitor. Valor's residual control takes hold on susceptible weeds shortly after they emerge, when cell membranes are disrupted, resulting in rapid weed death.

Valor can be applied at rates of up to 3 oz./acre. At 1 oz., it enhances burn down of glyphosate products and provides soil-residual suppression of susceptible weeds. At 2 oz./acre, its residual control spectrum includes seedling dandelion, common lambsquarters, mare's tail, horseweed, eastern black nightshade, pigweeds and shepherd's purse. The 2.5-oz./acre rate adds common ragweed and waterhemp control. Additional weeds that are suppressed at 2.5 to 3 oz./acre include giant ragweed, smartweeds, velvetleaf, large crabgrass, barnyard grass, giant foxtail and fall panicum. Control at specific rates is affected by soil organic matter and texture.

“Growers can expect four to six weeks of residual control of susceptible weeds, depending on soil characteristics and application rates,” Shojima says.

Valor also is labeled as a burn-down partner with 2,4-D, Gramoxone Extra, Scepter, Select and glyphosate products. It can be applied preemergence with Command, FirstRate, Lorox, Metribuzin, Prowl, Pursuit, Pursuit Plus, Python, Scepter, Squadron and Steel. It should not be applied in fields treated with Axiom, Domain, Lasso, Micro-Tech, Dual II Magnum, Boundary, Frontier or Outlook, which can cause severe crop injury. Valor should not be applied to emerged soybeans because of crop injury concerns.

Soybeans can be planted immediately after Valor is applied. The rotation interval for most other field crops is a year or less. Alfalfa, canola, oats, sugar beets and other crops not specifically addressed on the label can be planted in 12 months if a soil bioassay is negative.

Valor is formulated as a water dispersible granule containing 51% active ingredient and is available in 5-lb. packages. Growers can expect to pay about $5/oz. for Valor, Shojima says.