Because of early weed resistance issue in the southern states, many of the early LibertyLink soybean varieties were developed for Group 3, 4 and 5. “Growers in the South have been dealing with glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth for several years,” explains Arlene Cotie, soybean product manager, Bayer CropScience. “Agronomists in the Corn Belt estimate that the Midwest is about three years behind the South, in weed resistance development. In the next few years we could see some significant increases in resistance issues.”

The company’s annual grower surveys on the topic show a sizeable increase over 2011 in the number of farmers saying they have resistant weeds on their farms, says Cotie. “That number is now in the double digits, according to the May 2012 survey.”

She says Bayer CropScience and the seed companies offering LibertyLink soybeans anticipated that growth and will be offering a record number of Group 0-3 varieties for 2013. “The biggest increase will be in the Group 2.5-4 varieties, but there are also a lot of new numbers for the northern tier of states.”

Stine Seed will be offering almost 60 LibertyLink varieties for 2013, which is up from just under 45 last season. “Of the 60, almost 40 of them are new numbers,” says Stine’s David Thompson. “We’re definitely seeing more interest from growers in the Midwest, especially where there are multiple Roundup Ready crops grown. Growers want to preserve Roundup Ready technology’s effectiveness. That’s why they’re interested in adding LibertyLink soybeans. They won’t replace Roundup Ready – they complement it.”

Jack Carlson, WinField Solutions soybean director, agrees that there have been pockets of faster adoption of LibertyLink soybeans. “Overall, we’ve seen a gradual increase in their use in the Midwest, and Croplan is offering about a dozen varieties for next season.

“But it’s just not as convenient as glyphosate, and that has held some growers back from trying it,” he adds. “Herbicide application is more involved, with a tighter application window in the spring.”

A shortage of Liberty herbicide last season didn’t help product image, he notes. “We’re working closely with Bayer to make sure that doesn’t happen again, and we’re telling customers who order LibertyLink seed to purchase their herbicide right away.”

According to Cotie, last season’s herbicide shortage was due to an increase in product demand worldwide. “We’ve got our plants running at full capacity now, so there should be adequate supplies in the 2013 season.”