Extension weed scientists have been encouraging farmers to start thinking about a “cradle to grave” approach to help combat or avoid the development of glyphosate resistance in Palmer amaranth in their fields.

Monsanto is preparing to take that advice a step further by providing up to $20 per acre in cash incentives to help farmers provide season-long weed control through combinations of traditional herbicides and a newly-redesigned hooded sprayer.

The new incentive program, which Monsanto is calling Roundup Ready Plus, was announced during the opening of 33rd annual Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Ga., Tuesday, Oct. 19. The Monsanto exhibit was the first stop on the Sunbelt Expo’s VIP Tour, which includes the state Sunbelt Farmer of the Year winners and other dignitaries.

“The Roundup Ready Plus program combines the best recommendations we have after talking to growers and academics and other weed scientists with a number of programs that will incent growers to proactively use residual herbicides as a part of their program and at the same time optimize their potential for weed control and optimize their yield,” said Rick Cole, weed management implementation manager for Monsanto.

“It’s a program that’s tailored to specific recommendations locally, but at the same time gives them some broad recommendations that the academics endorse and that will be effective in helping them manage Palmer pigweed on their farms.”

The Roundup Ready Plus program provides weed management recommendations for Roundup Ready crops for each farm situation by pairing crop protection products from Monsanto and other companies, including Valent USA Corp. and Makhteshim Agan Group.

The recommendations place emphasis on residual control products for Palmer amaranth or pigweed and tall waterhemp. Cotton farmers who follow the Roundup Ready Plus recommendations will be eligible for a rebate of $20 per acre as part of the Cotton Performance Plus Program.

Example: A cotton grower can receive rebates for applying Reflex ($4 per acre) Gramoxone Inteon ($1 per acre) and Diuron ($3 per acre) at planting; Warrant ($4.50 per acre) one or two times with Roundup in early season; Cotoran, Caparol or Diuron 4L ($3 per acre) at layby; and Valor ($4 per acre) in the fall, early spring or at layby.

Monsanto has also been working with Willmar Fabrication on new hooded sprayer units aimed specifically at spraying alternate herbicides on glyphosate-resistant pigweed and other problem species.

“We’ve been talking a lot about start clean, stay clean with farmers during 2010,” said Cole. It’s very important for farmers to control pigweed early. Once they reach 3 inches to 4 inches in height, it is very difficult to kill them with any herbicide.”

“In 2011, we will be changing the focus to an emphasis on residual herbicides,” said Steve Havera, cotton traits marketing manager for Monsanto. “That’s what we’ve been hearing from the academics – that farmers must apply a residual to help provide alternate modes of action on these problem weeds.”

The Monsanto representatives say the need for residuals extends beyond the Roundup Ready platform. “Whether farmers use Roundup Ready Flex or the Ignite system, they need to use residual herbicides,” said Cole. “They need to take a proactive approach or they could be facing the same issues with Ignite.”