Monsanto planning to release TruFlex canola in 2019

Monsanto Canada has announced it plans to finally commercialize its TruFlex canola trait in 2019.

TruFlex has been approved in Canada and awaiting Chinese import approval since 2012, along with several other canola traits.

It’s not clear what or if anything has changed, but Monsanto now says import approval from China “should be granted in the first quarter of 2019.”

The TruFlex trait will allow for higher glyphosate rates and a wider application window compared to the Roundup Ready trait, which has been grown since 1996.

“We’ve had discussions with grower groups and conducted focus groups with individual growers about the challenges they face on the farm and the need to bring new traits and genetics to the marketplace to help drive yield,” says Dave Tornberg, North American traits and systems marketing manager with Monsanto, in a news release issued Thursday. “One of the best routes to higher yield potential is through effective weed control. TruFlex canola can help make that happen.”

The company says the herbicide-tolerance trait will allow farmers to apply Roundup Weathermax herbicide in-crop at a rate of 1.33 litres/acre for a single application or 0.67 litres/acre for two applications, with the spray window extending past the six-leaf stage all the way to first flower.

“The increased flexibility provided by the wider window of application will really appeal to farmers,” says Tornberg. “Farmers are increasingly pressed for time and TruFlex canola will give them anywhere from up to ten days to two weeks more time to spray without causing harm to the crop…”

Monsanto says there will be TruFlex plot trials and field demonstrations at several locations across Western Canada in 2018.

There was a report that Chinese import approvals would be granted for pending canola traits during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to China in December, but no announcement was made. Canola seed companies and trait developers contacted by RealAgriculture at the time were skeptical, and indicated the earliest commercial release would likely be for the 2019 growing season.

China’s national biosafety committee, which grants import approvals for traits, is scheduled to meet twice this year, according to a Monsanto spokesperson.

China is the second largest export market for Canadian canola, behind only the United States (which imports more meal and oil). China imported 4.8 million tonnes of Canadian canola in 2016, including 3.5 million tonnes of seed, 600 thousand tonnes of oil and 660 thousand tonnes of meal, worth $2.7 billion.

Meanwhile, Bayer is in the final stages of gaining approval for its acquisition of Monsanto, with both companies currently expecting the deal to close in the second quarter of 2018. To gain regulatory approval, Bayer has agreed to sell its Liberty trait and InVigor canola seed business to BASF.

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