By Darren

There’s always a little confusion when there is change, but here’s one that makes a lot of sense to me.  Bayer is changing the name of Ignite herbicide back to Liberty.  Since there are quite a few questions around this change and what that will mean in terms of the formulation they’ll use, the price point, and how it will impact the economics of LibertyLink crops, I’ll give you the details about Liberty for this spring.

If you remember back in the late 1990’s when LibertyLink corn and Liberty herbicide first hit the market, the grower satisfaction with Liberty’s performance was pretty good.  Where we saw issues with herbicide performance, it came down to spray coverage and the rate guys were using.  Cut-rates were common because growers were paying $15 to $20 back then for Liberty.  Fortunately, the prices have come way down since then.

Back in December of 2008, I remember when Ignite herbicide was launched and we were discussing it on Ag PhD (show #558 on YouTube if you’re curious).  What used to be the 32 ounce rate of the old Liberty was now equal to the 22 ounce rate of Ignite, and while Bayer used to push 20 to 24 ounces of the old Liberty (a cut-rate to save money), now they could sell 22 ounces of Ignite and have way more weed-killing punch for about the same money.  That rate still works well on many weed species, especially when weeds are less than 3 inches tall.

This year Bayer is going back to the name Liberty for their herbicide.  They are sticking with the more concentrated formulation, though.  To reflect the changing weed dynamics, in LibertyLink soybeans the best recommendation is to use a pre-emerge herbicide and follow up with 29 ounces of Liberty on your first post-emerge application.  If you need a second application, the recommendation will be to run with 36 ounces since there will likely be bigger and very actively growing weeds at that time.

When the switch to the Liberty name was announced, Bayer also took a pretty healthy price increase.  The exact reasons for this may not be known, but two rumors likely have quite a bit of truth in them.  The first one was that the burndown market in Roundup-resistant weed areas like the Mid-South has been ramping up the demand for Liberty so much that Bayer feared they’d run out of Liberty for the LibertyLink crops.  As a result, they increased the price and are also increasing their rebate for LibertyLink crops (now up to $4/unit on qualifying LibertyLink soybean purchases, for example).  The other rumor is that other companies selling Liberty-tolerant crops but do not pay tech fees to Bayer were starting to gain market share, and by having a higher price on Liberty and a rebate on LibertyLink crops from Bayer, an artificial price gap is created in Bayer’s favor.  Either way, if you’re looking at planting LibertyLink crops this spring, be aware that Ignite will now be called Liberty and there will be substantial rebates available for LibertyLink crops.  Just make sure to use the right spray tips (flat fans), volume of spray solution (typically 15 gallons of water per acre), and herbicide rate of Liberty and you’ll have great success this year.