What's the big deal about using generic vs branded herbicides?

It’s a lot more than the name and the price


LIBERTY® came off patent in 2019, and 2021 was the first year that generic glufosinate became widely available. Should you book generic glufosinate for your acres? Before you decide, here are a few things to consider.

The concentration of active ingredient affects plant safety. More active doesn’t automatically mean more benefits. In fact, a high concentration of glufosinate can damage a canola crop. There’s a reason LIBERTY has 150 g/L of glufosinate ammonium and a legacy of crop safety.

But there’s more to a crop protection product than its active ingredient. Manufacturers add surfactant to the jug to increase absorption and coverage, but they’re not required use the same inactive ingredients. The thing is, surfactants have a big influence on product performance, and a bad surfactant can cause plant damage, also called surfactant flash. The most common sign is yellowing leaves following an application. 

I see the most cases of surfactant flash in generic wild oat herbicides. It makes the plants look sick, reduces yield, and opens the door to disease and insect issues. Many generic products also have different formulations that can have inferior mixing qualities and have shown to produce excess foam in the tank.

Generic 2,4-D and MCPA are quite reliable, and they’re safe to include in many tank-mix programs.

The top manufacturers stand by their products and registered tank mixes. If you do see an issue in the field, Cargill can advocate for you. The only thing we ask is that you let us know right away. The sooner you tell us you’re concerned about a product’s performance, the sooner we can work with the manufacturer to make it right. If you wait for several weeks to pass, it’s tougher to pinpoint the source of the crop damage. 

The next area to consider is supply. Will your generic herbicide be available when you’re ready to go? Top retailers and manufacturers work together to manage the supply chain to ensure your crop protection products are in stock at go time with a wide range of container sizes to suit your operation.

All these factors can impact your bottom line. The winter months are the perfect time to give some thought to your choice.  Give your Cargill rep a call and we can talk it through.




Always read and follow label directions. LIBERTY is a registered trademark of BASF SE.

Ryan Mollenbeck

Ryan grew up on a mixed farm in Englefeld, SK, where at an early age he developed a passion for agriculture. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan, Ryan gained a wide range of experiences. His interests include new technology and automation, developments in biological products, and regenerative agriculture. Ryan joined Cargill in 2019 and is currently a Market Development agronomist in the Rosetown and Kindersley area. As a Certified Crop Advisor, Ryan enjoys scouting fields and solving problems for producers. When he's not reading up on the latest products, you could find him taking photographs around Saskatchewan (maybe even storm chasing) or cooking at home.

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