The pitched battle over genetically modified crops is reaching new heights after the USDA began 2011 with approval of three GMO crops:

In January, USDA deregulated Roundup Ready alfalfa without conditions after a 46-month environmental review.

In February, the USDA authorized spring planting of Genuity Roundup Ready sugarbeets. Monsanto Co. and KWS Ag had asked for interim approval while the USDA completes an environmental impact statement.

Also in February, the USDA deregulated Syngenta’s corn amylase trait, which facilitates the breakdown of starch into sugar. The GMO seed will be branded as “Enogen,” and represents the first corn output trait for the ethanol industry.

The Center for Food Safety plans to sue the USDA over its decision on alfalfa. Many organic and conventional alfalfa growers fear pollen from GMO alfalfa will be transported to their fields and contaminate their crops. Monsanto denies that claim, citing decades of science.

Environmental groups also denounced the decision on GMO corn, again arguing the cross-contamination issue.


Hemisphere GPS released eTurns, billed as the industry’s first auto-turn solution available for multiple brands of farm machinery. It enables farmers to automatically execute an end-row turn or change the configuration in real time for individual turns.

FMC announced the release of Stallion, a foliar insecticide that can be applied alone or tankmixed with fungicides, post herbicides and foliar fertilizers. With control of 28 labeled pests, it can be applied in alfalfa, corn, wheat, sorghum, soybeans, sunflowers and more crops.

Valent USA Corp. expects fall registration of Fierce pre-emergent herbicide, which contains Valor herbicide and a new active ingredient, pyroxasulfone. The company says its 23-state research trial in 2010 showed Fierce provided up to 8 weeks of residual control of key broadleaf weeds and grasses.

Arysta LifeScience received approval for Supremacy, a herbicide labeled for cereal grains providing broad-spectrum control of over 70 broadleaf weeds.

EMD Crop BioScience will introduce Ratchet for the 2011 growing season. The foliar-applied product for corn and soybean growers uses LCO (Lipo-chitooligosaccharide) Promoter Technology and is compatible with post-emergence applications.

Dan Froehlich, agronomist with The Mosaic Co., says considering price increases for fertilizer and grain prices during the past year, the return on investment for fertilizer is in line with 2006 and 2007 levels.

Rural Community Insurance Services says growers in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin fighting green snap can reduce their crop insurance premiums by up to 50% when they use Headline fungicide or Headline AMP fungicide from BASF on their corn acres.

Maryland farmers planted a record 398,679 acres of cover crops last year through a Maryland Department of Agriculture program. To encourage cover-crop use, the state sweetened payments to farmers to a maximum of $95 an acre and relaxed limits on eligible acres.