Cutting-Edge Technologies Help Manage Costly Insects

Experts from across the country offer insights and solutions to growers’ most pressing 2020 insect challenges.
Cutting-Edge Technologies Help Manage Costly Insects
Every year, insects take a huge bite out of growers’ profits, resulting in crop damage that adds up to billions of dollars in lost yields. Fortunately, a wave of innovation, particularly over the last decade, is helping growers better manage many of these pests. Below are some of the most economically impactful insects in the U.S., along with solutions that can help give growers a fighting chance for a successful growing season.
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Rooting Out Corn Rootworm

Corn rootworm (CRW) annually costs growers more than $1 billion in control measures and yield loss. By the time the telltale goosenecking of rootworm-ravaged plants is evident, it’s usually too late for that year’s corn. “If not managed, corn rootworm pressure can devastate a crop,” says Dave Keffeler, a corn grower in Remsen, Iowa.

The wheels of innovation are continually turning in agriculture. When it comes to insects, Syngenta is helping growers face these challenges head-on with cutting-edge insecticides and traits, awareness programs, and education.

Lisa Moricle
Head of Insecticides and Fungicides
Newly hatched CRW larvae feed on corn root fibers and outer root tissue, stunting plant growth as they burrow into larger roots. Larva damage is most commonly found from mid-June through mid-July. An infested plant often has brown, chewed-back roots that reduce uptake of nutrients and water. This root pruning opens pathways for plant infection and can lead to reduced yield. As the pest matures, adult CRW beetles bite through the green tissue of leaves and feed on tassels and silks, leaving substantial foliar damage to corn crops.

“Effective corn rootworm (CRW) management requires year-by-year evaluation of potential CRW pressure,” says Tim O’Brien, Ph.D., Agrisure® traits manager at Syngenta. “Growers concerned about this pest should have a multiyear management plan in place for each field that incorporates multiple control strategies, including crop rotation, CRW-traited corn hybrids, soil-applied insecticides and adult beetle management. Growers looking for control of more insects may want to consider Agrisure Duracade® 5222 E-Z Refuge® trait stack, as it controls 16 damaging above- and below-ground pests, more than any competitive trait stack. The Agrisure Duracade trait expresses a unique protein that binds differently in the gut of corn rootworm and provides a new trait option for CRW management when used in rotation with other industry trait technologies, including Agrisure 3122 E-Z Refuge.”

When growers need insecticide options for CRW and other soil-dwelling pests, Force® 6.5G and Force® Evo applied at planting offer superior root protection. Force 6.5G is a higher-loading granular insecticide that controls corn rootworm and other soil-dwelling insect pests, resulting in fewer stops to reload planter boxes. Force Evo, a liquid formulation that delivers proven corn rootworm control, is applied through a closed application system where the product is mixed into the starter fertilizer or water carrier stream prior to going into the furrow.

Because of the high CRW pressure in his area, Keffeler chooses corn hybrids with Agrisure Duracade trait stacks and also applies Force Evo on his corn acres. “We feel very confident protecting our corn with Syngenta technology,” Keffeler says. “These products help us consistently achieve higher yields because of the superior corn rootworm protection they provide.”

Cutting-Edge Technologies Help Manage Costly Insects
Managing the Ever-Evolving Soybean Aphid

While the soybean aphid has wreaked havoc on Midwestern and Southern soybeans for nearly 20 years, its continuous evolution brings new challenges to growers and resellers every year.

“This pest continues to evolve, and parts of Minnesota have populations showing signs of pyrethroid resistance,” says Syngenta Agronomic Service Representative Tim Dahl from Minnesota. “The good news is that Endigo® ZC insecticide is highly effective in controlling these populations.”

University trials consistently show that Endigo ZC outperforms its generic counterparts against these resistant soybean aphid populations.* “Endigo ZC is the real deal,” says John Koenig, insecticide product lead at Syngenta. “Generics can’t touch it.”

The soybean aphid originated in Asia and feeds on the newest growth of a soybean plant, causing damage primarily between late May and August. Large populations of soybean aphids can reduce seed count and lower yields by as much as 10% to 15%.

Amp Up Residual Control of Cotton Bollworm

Cotton bollworm, also known as corn earworm, is a pest particularly vulnerable to developing resistance. “The first generations occur in corn, which in most cases contains the same Bt gene used in cotton,” says Tripp Walker, Syngenta agronomic service representative in Mississippi. “Due to this selection pressure, we see resistance to the Bt gene, particularly in the Bollgard® II and Widestrike® cotton varieties, occurring in cotton bollworm.”

Walker notes that the diamide class of insecticides, which includes Besiege® insecticide, is now one of the only effective options for controlling this pest. Cotton growers like Collins Fyfe of Tunica, Mississippi, have come to rely on this insecticide for dependable cotton bollworm protection.

“I can count on the dual modes of action in Besiege to give me bollworm control in cotton,” says Fyfe, who’s also a retail representative at Nutrien Ag Solutions. “The added residual gets me through the worm flights in my cotton fields.”

Cotton bollworm moths lay eggs across cotton, corn and other crops. The light green to light brown larvae, which are 1.5-inch-long caterpillars, feed on squares, blooms and bolls. This feeding causes delicate tears, which may become infected with rot organisms and disease. Typically migrating from corn to cotton in July, these pests cause damage for farmers across the Midwest and South.

Cutting-Edge Technologies Help Manage Costly Insects
Fight Back Against Asian Citrus Psyllid

In the battle to defeat a pest that doesn’t have an economic threshold, the challenge is to scout intensively, then control it with products that maximize residual performance and minimize disruption of beneficial insect populations.

“Asian citrus psyllid [ACP] is endemic in Florida citrus and is intensively managed because it vectors citrus greening,” says Florida Syngenta Agronomic Service Representative John Taylor. “Since its introduction, Minecto® Pro insecticide quickly established itself as an industry standard for managing ACP. Its combination of abamectin and cyantraniliprole also targets a number of other citrus insect pests.”

Minecto Pro provides extended residual control of ACP as well as other overlapping citrus pests, such as citrus leaf miners and citrus rust mites. Its use in Florida citrus also is supported by the Syngenta Citrus Intern Scouting Program, which offers 90 days of scouting services to Florida citrus growers, providing them with key information to make better-timed foliar applications in citrus groves to reduce the impact of ACP and other damaging citrus pests.

The Power of Two Helps Reduce Navel Orangeworm Pressure

Unfortunately for California tree nut growers, 2020 is developing into a year when navel orangeworm pressure likely will be heavy. To help deal with this pressure, Garrett Gilcrease, a Syngenta agronomic service representative, suggests tree nut growers consider Minecto Pro insecticide for the May spray in their insect control programs.

“Minecto Pro combines two active ingredients to provide enhanced control of navel orangeworms, giving growers more bang for their buck than a solo material,” he says. At the May timing, Minecto Pro offers effective, fast knockdown and essential residual on leaves and developing nuts. Minecto Pro is also effective as a first hull split spray for mite knockdown, protecting nuts from pests.

After crop harvest, Gilcrease advises growers to remove mummies from trees to reduce the risk of navel orangeworm infestations the following growing season. These mummies become a food source for navel orangeworms that lie in wait for the next season’s nuts. For more information on managing navel orangeworms, go to the Syngenta ACT NOW learning module.

Grower Rescues Crop from Colorado Potato Beetle

Resistance to many common insecticides is making one of the most destructive pests in potatoes even deadlier. Just ask AJ Bussan, Ph.D., director of agronomy for Wisconsin-based Wysocki Family of Companies. He recounts how extreme Colorado potato beetle pressure nearly destroyed their potato crop in 2018. “We lost fields to defoliation five weeks prior to maturation,” he says.

Reacting quickly to this pest pressure, Bussan and his team were able to apply Minecto Pro insecticide and severely reduce the impact of Colorado potato beetles on the rest of their potato plants.

“Minecto Pro is the first product that has two complementary modes of action and is highly efficacious on Colorado potato beetle,” says Jeff Zelna, Syngenta agronomic service representative in New York. “Over the past 10 years, most new products sold in the potato market included a combination of either a pyrethroid or neonicotinoid. Minecto Pro is the first product that does not contain either chemistry. Instead, it contains a Group 28 diamide and Group 6 abamectin, both efficacious on the Colorado potato beetle.”

From Maine to Idaho, the Colorado potato beetle can decimate whole fields of tubers. With the ability to damage plants immediately upon emergence, this pest winters underground in potato fields and can lay up to 350 eggs per generation. Larvae and adult beetles feed on leaves, tubers and roots and can completely defoliate plants.

A Helping Hand

Whatever pests emerge during the 2020 growing season, growers and resellers across the country can take comfort in knowing that solutions backed by a team of experts are available.

“The wheels of innovation are continually turning in agriculture,” says Lisa Moricle, head of insecticides and fungicides at Syngenta. “When it comes to insects, Syngenta is helping growers face these challenges head-on with cutting-edge insecticides and traits, awareness programs, and education.”

*University of Minnesota, Extension, “Foliar-applied insecticide control of the soybean aphid.”