If you can't beat 'em - work out a supply or licensing agreement. That's one strategy that chemical companies are using to create new weed control products.

Celebrity, for example, was created through a supply agreement between BASF Agricultural Products and DuPont Agricultural Products. DuPont will provide nicosulfuron, the active ingredient in its Accent herbicide, to BASF to use with its dicamba, found in Banvel, Clarity and Marksman. The result: Celebrity.

It offers postemergent control of tough grass and broadleaf weeds like foxtail, woolly cupgrass, cocklebur, lambsquarters, waterhemp and Canada thistle.

"Celebrity uses a non-ALS mode of action for broadleaf weed control, allowing growers to use another tool for resistance management," says Robert Simpson, BASF market manager. "And no tankmixing is needed, saving growers time."

But it can be part of a sequential program with pre-emergent products.

Celebrity and these other new corn herbicides have Environmental Protection Agency approval and will be available in '99.

A licensing agreement to supply glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, has been obtained by Nufarm Americas Inc. Its "new" herbicide is Credit.

This year Credit can be used only as a preplant burndown treatment. In 2000, it can be used over the top of Roundup Ready corn, too.

"Producers now will have a choice of suppliers for glyphosate herbicide,"says Nick Weedman, Nufarm general manager.

The new product with the most confusing family tree is Epic, born of a joint effort by Rhone-Poulenc Ag Co. and Bayer Corp. It's a combination of isoxaflutole, the active ingredient in Rhone-Poulenc's new herbicide, Balance, and flufenacet, an active ingredient in Bayer's newest, Axiom.

Epic provides solid pre-emergent grass and broadleaf control, adds Inci Dannenberg, Bayer marketing product manager. "It provides this control in a wide range of conditions, at low rates of 12-17 oz/acre. In many trials, a single application of Epic greatly reduced or even eliminated the need for postemergence herbicide applications."

It also controls triazine-resistant weeds such as lambsquarters and kochia.

The 58% dry flowable product will be packaged in 25-lb jugs and be in limited supply this growing season.

Balance, which first was expected on the market for the 1997 growing season, will finally be introduced in 16 states this spring.

A water-dispersible granule applied at 2 oz/acre, the herbicide can be applied up to 14 days before planting for eight to 10 weeks of residual control. It offers the unique characteristic of recharging with moisture to knock down emerged weeds up to 2" tall. It also offers burndown activity on emerged weeds in minimum- and no-till programs.

Like Epic, Balance controls weeds resistant to ALS and triazine chemistries. Over 40 broadleaf and grass weeds bite the dust, including velvetleaf, kochia, foxtail and pigweed.

Rhone-Poulenc's Axiom is another low-rate, pre-emergence product. It controls annual grasses, such as foxtail and fall panicum, and small-seeded broadleaf weeds like pigweed, waterhemp and common lambsquarter.

The herbicide is a combination of two active ingredients with separate modes of action. The first is a new oxyacetamide chemistry that interferes with a weed's germination and seedling development by inhibiting protein synthesis. The second chemistry disrupts weeds' photosynthetic process.

Axiom can be applied preplant, pre-emergence or burndown, in single or split applications. It can be used with liquid or dry fertilizer and tankmixed.

DuPont's newest is LeadOff, a pre-emergent with excellent crop tolerance and application flexibility. It can be used for broad-spectrum grass and broadleaf control in a one-pass program, or a two-pass program with a postemergent herbicide. It requires less rainfall for activation, says Craig Musselman, product manager.

"We believe that farmers will be pleased with their results when using LeadOff in a planned two-pass program with DuPont's Basis Gold." It's also an ideal alternative to Extrazine II in a one-pass program, Musselman adds.

Aim, from FMC, controls velvetleaf, black nightshade, morningglories, lambsquarters, redroot pigweed, and other weeds, says Kenny Cordell, ag products group director.

"Aim is the perfect tankmix partner for enhancing current programs to provide full-spectrum postemergent weed control," he adds.

It tankmixes well with Banvel, Clarity, Hornet or Permit, but cannot be tankmixed with products containing bromoxynil, such as Buctril.

Its new active ingredient, carfentrazone-ethyl, disrupts membranes and kills sensitive weeds.

Formulated as a 40% dry flowable packaged in 8-oz bottles, the herbicide can be applied at a 1/3-oz rate to weeds just emerging and up to 24" tall.

Novartis' newest, NorthStar, is a postemergent product using two herbicide chemistries with different modes of action.

NorthStar controls broadleaf weeds, including waterhemps and Canada thistle, and grasses such as shattercane, quackgrass and foxtails.

"Using NorthStar's multiple modes of action, we fill in many of the gaps that can appear from just using a single-action product," notes Steve Pyle, technical manager.

The product combines sulfonylurea with a synthetic hormone for quick burndown and broad-spectrum residual control with no need to tankmix, he says. It may be used extensively in northern growing areas of the Corn Belt, where tough weeds, triazine restrictions and ALS resistance are at the front of many growers' minds, Pyle adds.

Labeled for use on corn between 4" and 36" tall, NorthStar is best applied before corn reaches 12".

Also from Novartis, Spirit, was EPA-approved in time for the last growing season. Targeted for corn acres sandwiched between I-70 and I-80, the product is also expected to be popular south of I-70.

It's labeled to control 34 of the most common weeds, including cocklebur, pigweed, velvetleaf and morningglory.

"Spirit is actually a formulation that combines excellent broadleaf control with a grass kicker to control shattercane and suppress grasses like yellow foxtail," says Felix Muhlebach, Novartis group director.

The herbicide's active ingredients are similar to those found in Beacon and Exceed. It can be applied on corn 4-24" tall and used in a two-pass herbicide program with a pre-emergent product.

A premix of Liberty and atrazine is the newest combination from AgrEvo for use on LibertyLink and warranted hybrids.

"In terms of economics, Liberty ATZ will be a cost-effective option for those who want one-pass weed control," says Bill Bertges, field development manager.

With atrazine, the new Liberty combination gives residual control of up to 100 weeds. It can be applied on corn up to 36" tall without yield drag or the threat of crop injury.

Micro Flo Co., a division of BASF, is marketing its own versions of three current herbicides to compete with Rhone-Poulenc's Buctril and Marksman products.

Bromox 2E is a kind of generic equivalent to Buctril, says Micro Flo's Lee Tharrington; as is Bromox plus atrazine to the Buctril/atrazine premix. Micro Flo's Marksman substitute: Banvel-K plus atrazine.