Ok. You've been hearing at all the winter meetings that you should apply a residual herbicide as part of a herbicide resistance management program for your Roundup Ready corn, soybeans or cotton.

In case you're still wavering as you finish up your corn or begin preparations to plant your early-season soybeans, Monsanto has upped the ante by announcing a new Start Clean, Stay Clean Assurance Plan for corn and soybeans as part of its Roundup Rewards program. (Delta and Southeast cotton growers are covered by Roundup Ready Cotton Performance Plus.)

The company is offering to pay from $5.50 to $13 per acre if you have to make a second application of Roundup PowerMax or Roundup WeatherMax to control escaped weeds following the use of a Monsanto-approved residual herbicide with either crop.

“We know the Roundup Ready system has proven to be very flexible and beneficial, but farmers have not always been satisfied with the yield results because of the early weed competition,” says Curt Uebele, Roundup marketing manager for Monsanto. “The new assurance plan will be a way to help growers maximize yields and prevent the development of resistance.”

Uebele said the assurance plans for corn and soybeans are the latest in a series of benefits offered through the Roundup Rewards loyalty program. (The company, which began offering the program 10 years ago, paid out $170 million in Roundup Rewards benefits in 2008.)

In the program, farmers have been eligible to receive trait refunds if their seed was lost before planting due to natural catastrophe, yield protection for using the proper rate of a residual herbicide and cost-share allowances for controlling volunteer Roundup Ready Corn 2.

“Weed resistance is becoming a bigger issue,” says Dave Rhylander, D&PL marketing manager for Monsanto. “And it's an issue we've been trying to address as a company to help growers remain profitable.”

Monsanto first offered its Roundup Ready Cotton Performance Plus rebates as a pilot program for growers in the Southeast after Extension specialists began to document glyphosate resistance in Palmer amaranth in Georgia and South Carolina. Last year, the company expanded the program to the Delta region.

“We've been hearing from farmers this winter that they didn't know whether they were planting corn or soybeans in 2009,” said Rhylander. “But they were concerned about the impact of glyphosate-resistant weeds on their crops.”

In the program, farmers are asked to “start clean” with a burndown herbicide or tillage before they plant. They're then asked to choose a residual herbicide from a list provided by Monsanto and apply it at the proper Roundup Ready rate.

For Roundup Ready corn, the herbicides include Degree at 3 pints per acre, Degree Xtra at 2 quarts per acre, Harness at 1.5 pints per acre, Harness Xtra at 1.2 quarts, Harness Xtra 5.6L at 1.5 quarts, Bullet at 2 quarts, Lariat at 2 quarts or Micro-Tech at 2 quarts.

For Roundup Ready soybeans, growers can choose between Monsanto's Intrro at 2 quarts per acre and Valent USA Corp.'s Gangster Herbicide at 2.4 ounces per acre, Valor Herbicide at 2 ounces or Valor XLT Soybean Herbicide at 3 ounces per acre. Those should not be applied when the seed is cracking or coming through the surface.

After the crops emerge, growers must apply Roundup PowerMax or Roundup WeatherMax at a minimum of 22 ounces per acre before the weeds exceed 4 inches in height in corn or 6 inches in height in soybeans.

“What we've seen and what our university scientists have observed is that using a residual herbicide allows Roundup Ready soybean growers the flexibility to go in with Roundup PowerMax or WeatherMax when the weeds are up to 6 inches tall,” says Uebele.

If growers follow the recommendations and a second in-crop treatment is needed to control a late flush of annual weeds, growers should apply a minimum of 22 ounces of Roundup PowerMax or WeatherMax. They will receive up to $13 per acre for a second in-crop treatment of Roundup WeatherMax, if needed when Roundup WeatherMax has been used and $5.50 per acre if Roundup PowerMax was used initially.

“Whether the dealer is scouting the fields and sees the escaped weeds or the grower sees them, the dealer can verify the problem and contact Monsanto,” says Uebele. “We don't want growers to have to wait on Monsanto to come out and see the weeds before they take care of a problem.”

“If this program is as successful as our earlier programs, we think we will see a lot more residual herbicides,” says Rhylander. “We want to be proactive in preventing resistance — and helping growers increase yields.”