Based on seed orders and farmer surveys, it’s estimated that Bayer’s new Roundup Ready canola system, TruFlex, will be planted on one million acres in Canada this spring. What’s driving such interest in this new canola system?
David Kelner, the North American canola portfolio manager with Bayer, identifies a number of reasons why farmers are excited about the TruFlex canola system. First, while Bayer considers TruFlex to be a new trait, it is a significant improvement of the Roundup Ready system that most canola growers are already familiar with.
The major differences are with the rates of glyphosate that can be applied, the timing of glyphosate applications and the weed spectrum that can be controlled.
Kelner says the wide range of advantages the TruFlex system offers over current Roundup Ready canola means the reason one farmer adopts this new system could well be different than why another farmer switches to the TruFlex system. “The technology provides advantages that meet the specific needs of each farm operation.”
NEW TIMING FLEXIBILITY
Some farmers want the greater flexibility TruFlex offers in herbicide application timing. “Growers can apply WeatherMAX from the cotyledon stage right up to first flower,” explains Kelner. “This widens the spray window by 10 to 14 days.”
This can be a huge benefit for growers who have lots of acres to cover, those who want a longer window between the first and second glyphosate application and especially for farmers who experience weather delays and are unable to spray before risking crop injury. “The TruFlex system is insurance that offers growers peace of mind — they now have spray-timing flexibility to get the weed control they expect,” says Kelner.
WIDER WEED SPECTRUM
Other farmers are looking for better control of tough-to-kill weeds. Foxtail barley, cleavers and wild buckwheat are of increasing concern for many canola growers and the TruFlex system promises much better control of these annual weeds. It even provides season-long control of dandelions. »
In fact, while the Roundup WeatherMAX label listed 27 weeds when applied at the full in-crop rate on Genuity Roundup Ready canola, there are now 51 weed species listed on the label when the new, full-rate WeatherMAX application is made in the TruFlex system.
Farmers are now able to apply higher rates of glyphosate to achieve better weed control. For example, growers can make two applications of 0.67 litres per acre of Roundup WeatherMAX in crop between cotyledon and first flower or a single application of 1.33 litres per acre of WeatherMAX between cotyledon and the six-leaf stage.
Kelner explains that these higher rates of glyphosate can be used because the TruFlex trait is a new promoter sequence which provides greater expression of the gene for tolerance to glyphosate. “The (glyphosate tolerance) gene is being expressed at stronger levels and continues to be expressed at later stages of plant development.”
Growers who have previously sprayed glyphosate late on Roundup Ready canola know that crop injury is always a risk. Kelner says studies have shown a three bushel-per-acre yield loss to Roundup Ready canola when sprayed after the six-leaf stage. But the increased glyphosate tolerance with the TruFlex system will prevent such yield losses, right up to spraying TruFlex canola at first flower.
ELITE GENETICS FOR HIGHER YIELD
Finally, some growers are simply adopting the TruFlex system for the higher yield potential offered by elite genetics introduced with the TruFlex system. Not only are there herbicide benefits, but TruFlex has next generation plant genetics as well.
Higher yield potential, wider spectrum weed control and increased flexibility to control weeds before they impact yields and rob moisture and nutrients means TruFlex offers real economic advantages for growers.
But the most important consideration about adoption of the new TruFlex system is the care Bayer has taken to ensure market acceptance before introduction. While the TruFlex system is based on the same herbicide tolerance technology as all Roundup Ready canola, Bayer has sought the same market approvals that would be required for introduction of a completely new biotechnology trait.
Even though Canada and the United States approved the TruFlex system nearly seven years ago in June 2012 and in other important markets since then, Bayer did not introduced the TruFlex system until it received approval from China, Canada’s largest canola export market, earlier this year.