There is no doubt farmers in some areas of the Southeast have found Liberty/Ignite herbicide hard to find, but rumors of planned shortages and attempts to force other companies out of the crowded cotton seed market just don’t hold water.

Phytogen cottonseed, which contains the Widestrike gene for insect control, also contains a gene marker making these varieties resistant to glufosinate, the active ingredient in Liberty/Ignite herbicide.

Some growers who planted Phytogen Widestrike varieties found they couldn’t buy the glufosinate herbicide they needed to spray over-the-top for extended control of a broad spectrum of weeds.

Unfortunately, some growers who bought Stoneville and FiberMax varieties with the LibertyLink gene for resistance to glufosinate also could not find the herbicide.

Bayer, which sells both Liberty/Ignite herbicide and Stoneville/Fibermax seed, says a huge increase in demand for the herbicide, not any kind of collusion is the reason for the shortage.

Bayer Spokesman Al Luke says, “Due to the increased pressure of glyphosate resistant weeds and the use of Liberty herbicide in both LibertyLink and non-LibertyLink crops, demand for Liberty herbicide has reached an all-time high.  Although Bayer CropScience has dramatically increased production quantities of Liberty for the 2012 crop season, some local areas may face challenges in locating supply.”

Luke, strategic marketing lead, Broad Acre Crops for Bayer CropScience, adds “Bayer CropScience respects our customers and the difficulties they face fighting weed resistance. We are pleased to offer Liberty herbicide and LibertyLink crops as a solution. We have been working with distribution to proactively align the supply of Liberty herbicide with LibertyLink cotton, soybeans and canola.” 

Hopefully the supply situation will continue to be less of a problem as the growing season continues. Luke says, “Our production facilities continue to work at full capacity, literally around the clock, and we are continuing to expedite Liberty shipments to help meet 2012 needs.

With cotton acreage down across the Southeast, seed companies have ramped up their efforts to secure acreage. At the same time, glyphosate resistant problems and reduced-tillage practices continue to increase, creating demand for burndown materials and for replacement herbicides for glyphosate.

The combination of these and other factors has created a significant increase in demand for glufosinate herbicides. Increased demand led to shortages, leaving some growers scrambling to find a way to manage weeds in their cotton crop.

rroberson@farmpress.com