Most Southeast and Mid-South weed scientists agree cotton producers need to put down one or more residual herbicides to help control glyphosate-resistant or soon-to-be-resistant Palmer amaranth or pigweed.

In 2009, qualifying growers can get help with the cost of those herbicides in the form of rebates that can total up to $12 per acre for applying combinations of residual materials pre-plant, early postemergence and lay-by in their cotton.

The rebates will be available under Monsanto's new Roundup Ready Cotton Performance Plus program. Monsanto is expanding the program, which was offered as a pilot to growers in a limited geography in 2008, to 13 states to encourage farmers to follow those Extension specialists' recommendations.

“Basically, we're enhancing the 2008 program by adding to the number of products eligible for a rebate and expanding it to all states east of Texas,” says Paul Callaghan, cotton traits marketing lead for Monsanto. “But the intent hasn't changed. We're still trying to increase grower awareness.”

One indication of how seriously Monsanto is taking the resistance problem is that of the six products that will be eligible for rebates only one, Parrlay, whose active ingredient is metolachlor, is a Monsanto brand. The others are Valor, Reflex, Cotoran, Dual Magnum and Direx.

The 2008 pilot program, which was offered in the Southeast (areas in Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas where glyphosate resistance first appeared in Palmer amaranth), included rebates for Valor and Parrlay. Qualifying growers could receive $5.50 per acre for applying those herbicides in Roundup Ready or Roundup Ready Flex cotton.

“We did extensive research with the growers who participated in the 2008 program,” said Callaghan, “and we saw a tremendous response. But some growers wanted more herbicide choices. So we started working with Extension specialists and researchers to see if other products made sense.”

“We felt it was very important that we be in alignment with university and Extension specialists' recommendations in this situation,” said Rick Cole, chemistry technology development lead for Monsanto. “In the Mid-South, that included weed scientists such as Larry Steckel (University of Tennessee) and Ken Smith (University of Arkansas).”

Based on their work in 2008, Monsanto is taking what Cole called unprecedented steps to try to help farmers combat resistance.

“The program actually has two objectives,” said Callaghan. “One is to provide help to growers who have resistance issues on their farm, and the other is to try to slow the development of resistance on the farms of growers who don't have it.”

To help growers obtain better control of Palmer amaranth and other weeds in their Roundup Ready or Roundup Ready Flex cotton, Monsanto has divided the program into three phases — pre-plant, early postemergence and lay-by.

Farmers can receive rebates of $5.50 per acre for applying Valor (2 ounces), $5.50 per acre for Reflex (16 ounces) or $3 per acre for Cotoran (2 pints per acre) during the pre-plant phase; $5.50 per acre for Parrlay (1.3 pints) or $3 per acre for Dual Magnum (1 pint) early post; and $1 per acre for Direx (32 ounces) at lay-by for a total of up to $12 per acre in rebates.

“Some growers liked Valor, but others had problems with it so we added Reflex,” said Cole. “Others liked Parrlay but couldn't get it in their area, so we added Dual Magnum because the university and Extension scientists said we needed metolachlor in the picture.”

For 2009, the program will be offered in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. To participate, growers must purchase qualifying herbicides from authorized Monsanto retailers between March 16 and Aug. 15, 2009 and apply them at the recommended rate.

“We really didn't know what to expect last spring,” said Callaghan. “But we saw residual herbicide usage shot up 15 to 20 percent once growers saw the savings they could achieve. We want to do that on an even wider scale in 2009.”