The debut of Monsanto's "Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System(TM)(R)" is raising tensions among soybean and cotton farmers who have and have not adopted the seed component of the system, especially in the American Mid South (archived). This year's combination of weather and desperate tillage has lead to ideal conditions for Palmer's Amaranth to flourish in soybean fields threatening to greatly reduce yields by shading soybean plants and consuming soil nitrogen1 far more aggressively than the soybeans can.
Glyphosate resistant Palmer's Amaranth after its debut in 2006 has swiftly spread across the country and this year's proliferation of the weed has forced farmers who planted "Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System(TM)(R)" cotton and soybeans to spray their fields with Dicamba. The twist is that Monsanto isn't done bringing the herbicide portion of "Roundup Ready Xtend" to market so farmers who planted seeds from this Monsanto crop system are just spraying and dumping Dicamba on their fields out of desperation. Farmers who lack these seeds are watching their soybeans curl up and suffer, because Dicamba is especially effective on legumes.
The fallout from this year's soybean season will likely include the consumption of immense amounts of various EPA and Department of Agriculture functionaries time, substantial monetary penalties and torts against the farmers who manage to harvest soybeans this year, and pain for Monsanto as restrictions on applying Dicamba increase and diminish the point of marketing Dicamba resistant soybeans. Sorry for your loss.
Most plants take soil nitrogen and pump it into growing above the soil. Palmer's Amaranth isn't content with that. It takes soil nitrogen for growth and then takes still more soil nitrogen and stores it as nitrates. At one point Palmer's Amaranth was grown as a staple grain, but in the contemporary farm environment the level of nitrates accumulated turn the plant toxic. ↩