Lower seed and weed-control costs, price incentives at the grain elevator and yields that rival Roundup Ready beans have renewed interest in conventional varieties, said Grover Shannon, an agronomist at the University of Missouri Delta Research Center in the Missouri Bootheel.
In the 1990s, Monsanto
introduced soybeans and other plants genetically modified to tolerate its popular herbicide Roundup (glyphosate).
"Now there's a resurgence of interest in conventional soybean varieties.
Farmers can grow them cheaper and they will yield just as well," Shannon
Overseas demand for non-genetically-modified soybeans and the tripling of costs for glyphosate herbicide have made conventional varieties more appealing to many growers, he
"Roundup costs went from about $15 per gallon last year to $40 to $50 per gallon," he
"That was a pretty good shock to growers.
So they got to comparing things, and saw the conventional system was just as cheap."
Many farmers already add a conventional herbicide to glyphosate for weed control due to the spread of glyphosate-tolerant weeds, Shannon
"The conventional herbicide systems are about as cheap if not cheaper than using just the Roundup system."
Reflecting overseas demand, grain elevators have been offering a premium for conventional soybeans.
Last winter, growers could go to some of the local elevators and get a contract for non-genetically-modified soybeans for a dollar or more over the Chicago price, he
Another draw is the ability to save seed from conventional varieties, Shannon