The crop in question is soybeans, but there's now a big carrot involved. Reuters reports Monsanto is offering what can amount to a more than 50% rebate to farmers who agree to use the herbicide XtendiMax with VaporGrip on their 2018 soybean crop. A rep for Monsanto calls use of the product and the complementary soybeans engineered to withstand it part of the "next level of weed control"; US regulators are less bullish. After concerns that dicamba-based herbicides—XtendiMax is one—are drifting to other crops that haven't been modified—the New York Times in September called Monsanto's modified seeds "one of the biggest product releases in the company's history"—more states are restricting the application period and requiring farmers who use the product to undergo training, making the product a bit more cumbersome to use.
To address the first, Reuters reports Monsanto will give farmers a $6 per acre rebate on the product, which generally costs $11 per acre to apply. Ohio State University reiterated its position on how to minimize issues of dicamba drift: limit its use to early season, when there is "less emerged vegetation," noting "postemergence use of dicamba accounted for most of the off-target problems in 2017." To that end, Reuters outlines some states' in-the-works restrictions for 2018; Arkansas is considering a ban on its use after April 15. Monsanto says it expects Xtend soybeans to cover 40 million acres in 2018, a doubling of 2017's numbers. Agriculture.com reports 89.5 million acres of soybeans were planted in the US in summer 2017, and 3.6 million acres were thought to be harmed by dicamba drift. (Read more Monsanto stories.)