SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Farmers in the western Corn Belt will soon have some new options for weed management, especially for resistant weeds.

China recently approved five new genetically modified crops for import, the first such biotech traits to move forward in 17 months. They include Qrome corn, RF3 canola, Truflex canola, MGI soybeans and Enlist E3 soybeans. While farmers welcomed the news, perhaps the product garnering the most interest in the region has been the Enlist E3 soybeans. Depending on the company, they may be available for farmers to plant in either the 2019 or 2020 growing seasons.

The Enlist E3 system offers three modes of action, which provides increased flexibility for farmers as Enlist soybeans can be sprayed post emergent with three different herbicides.

"We've got herbicide tolerance to the new 2,4-D choline in Enlist herbicide, plus tolerance to glyphosate (Roundup) and importantly glufosinate (Liberty) as a third possible mode of action," says Shawna Hubbard, Enlist product marketing manager with Corteva. At the same time, the system also provides low drift and volatility for improved crop safety.

Enlist E3 soybeans still need Philippine import approval, but with the major hurdle cleared in China, there are many companies prepared to sell the seed this year. Luke Gronewoller, account manager with Peterson Farms Seed, says they have devoted a large percentage of their seed production to these soybeans to be able to offer them for the 2019 planting season.

"We're confident that the Philippine approval will go through and we're currently taking reservations on Enlist soybeans," he says.

Peterson Farms Seed will have 11 Enlist varieties in its pipeline, with a supply ranging from Group 00 to Mid-Group 2 maturity soybeans.

Tony Lenz with Stine Seed says because it is a breeding company, that will also allow them to have product available for growers this year.

"A lot of companies are going to have to wait for another year to be able to put it in their bag," he says.

Stine will have a small amount of product to sell in 2019, but they are better positioned for seed production for 2020.

"We potentially as a company could be looking at trying to get half a million units out there that we can use for production," he says.

Lenz says they are also waiting for Philippine approval before moving forward.

"We're hoping yet by spring of 2019 we will have that and be able to ramp it up and be able to go full scale commercial wise," he says.

Hubbard says Corteva's plans are to expand the Enlist E3 soybeans in technology demonstrations in 2019 and expand seed production to have the product available commercially for the 2020 growing season.

With Enlist E3 soybeans, farmers will have increased flexibility and be better able to control a wide range of weeds resistant to the herbicide glyphosate or Roundup.

"It's going to be a big helper in our part of the country," Gronewoller says.

Hubbard says the system provides control of a wide range of broadleaf weeds due to the 2,4-D choline herbicide option. It targets waterhemp, palmer amaranth, pigweed, common and giant ragweed, common lambsquarter, eastern black nightshade, velvetleaf marestail and kochia.

Hubbard says the early weed control and overall effectiveness of the program will help farmers improve their soybean yields.

"Our goal is to protect and preserve yield potential. So, when we eliminate weed competition in the field, that's when our soybeans have the best chance to flourish and reach full yield potential," she says.

Soybean farmers welcomed the news. Brandon Wipf, a Huron, S.D., soybean farmer is also on the board of directors for the American Soybean Association, which has been pushing for additional trait approvals to give soybean farmers more options.

"It's always good to have more tools in the tool box right and so when we heard that those were approved in China, that was a big win for us," he says.