Take the Long View for Effective Insect Management
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A. Tim O’Brien, Syngenta traits manager: As growers evaluate what to remove from their expenses, there are risks in eliminating items that provide clear economic benefits. One of these risks could be leaving their crop vulnerable to insect feeding. Most of the corn production areas in the U.S. face pressures from various insect pests. Damaging pests like earworms, armyworms, cutworms and corn borers continue to cause economic damage. Insect pests like western bean cutworm have expanded their geography, feeding on more ears across the Corn Belt. Scouting for these pests can be time consuming; and by the time growers schedule rescue treatments, a great deal of economic injury may have already occurred.
Additionally, growers who plant corn following corn and those located in geographies with either western corn rootworm (CRW) variant or northern CRW extended diapause could experience root feeding from corn rootworm larvae if they don’t take preventative measures.
“A decision to forgo investing in technology, including the use of Bt traits and crop protection products, increases the risk of unexpected damage to the crop, which can negatively impact yields, quality and harvest efficiency.”
A. Meade McDonald, Syngenta commercial product lead for insecticides: Insect pressure in corn can be unpredictable and sporadic due to weather conditions and other environmental factors. A decision to forgo investing in technology, including the use of Bt traits and crop protection products, increases the risk of unexpected damage to the crop, which can negatively impact yields, quality and harvest efficiency.
In the case of CRW management strategies, it’s important to remember that to mitigate the risk of damage, you have to target control during the larvae stage, when the pest can cause the most economic damage to the crop. Because of this risk, corn growers need to use CRW traits and/or a soil-applied insecticide at planting. Often, foliar applications or rescue treatments aren’t viable options, as the damage to developing root systems is already done.
Q. What insect management advice can you offer corn growers in 2020?
A. O’Brien: Growers can work with their Syngenta reseller to review the potential insect pressures of each field. Once they’ve identified these pressures, they can develop an insect management plan for each field. This plan should establish if and when the grower should use an insect control technology for each insect.
CRW is the most destructive corn pest in the U.S. and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in reduced grain yield and control measures. 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.
A. McDonald: For CRW in particular, scouting individual cornfields to monitor the number of CRW adult beetles in the current year can help determine CRW pressure the next year. If scouting reveals 1 to 1.5 beetles per plant, CRW larval feeding activity may be high the following year. Developing a CRW management plan for each field helps growers understand which products or technologies are required to limit the risk of damage. With an effective plan in place and the most robust trait package and/or soil-applied insecticides deployed, corn growers can enjoy peace of mind and be confident that they can control CRW and achieve higher yields with excellent harvest efficiency.
Q. What Syngenta solutions are available for CRW in particular?
“CRW is the most destructive corn pest in the U.S. and costs growers more than $1 billion annually in reduced grain yield and control measures.”
A. O’Brien: For growers interested in controlling CRW, our “Take Control of Corn Rootworm” decision guide can help them build an effective management plan. Available on the Syngenta U.S. website or from one of our representatives, the guide provides tips on using crop rotation, CRW traits and insecticides.
If possible, growers should first consider crop rotation to a nonhost crop like NK® or Golden Harvest® soybeans. Force® brand soil-applied insecticides for larvae control and Warrior II with Zeon Technology® insecticide for adult beetle control provide additional ways to protect the corn crop and reduce future CRW populations. Growers looking for control of more insects may want to consider Agrisure Duracade® 5222 E-Z Refuge® trait stack, as it controls 16 damaging pests — both above and below the ground — more than any competitive trait stack. Agrisure Duracade expresses a protein that binds differently in the gut of CRW and provides a new trait option for CRW management, when used in rotation with other industry trait technologies, including Agrisure® 3122 E-Z Refuge.
A. McDonald: Growers across the Corn Belt have come to know and trust Force 3G soil-applied insecticide for the past 30 years because of its unique mode of action for consistent, reliable control of CRW, even under high pressure situations. In 2017, we introduced Force Evo, a liquid, fertilizer-compatible formulation with excellent cold tolerance and improved handling and cleanout through a closed application system. In 2018, we introduced Force 6.5G, a higher loading granular formulation that is packaged in a 20% lighter bag, covers 175% more acres and has 50% less dust, which means fewer bags to handle, haul and load than Force 3G, with fewer stops to refill. Ultimately, these new Force formulations offer improved handling and convenience and enable increased at-planting efficiency with the same best-in-class control of CRW.
This spring, when the weather window opens and it’s time to plant corn, Syngenta technologies and the people behind them are ready to help growers establish their crop more efficiently and with greater confidence. For more information, growers and resellers can contact their local Syngenta representative or go to our website at www.syngenta-us.com/crops/corn.