The trait development bandwagon continues to roll right along, as companies respond to the growing demand for this revolutionary technology by adding more insect protection, as well as herbicide tolerance, in one package.

Many of these products will be available for 2007, although supplies will likely be tight for select hybrids. With the explosion in trait-based corn hybrids, expect selection to be even greater for 2008.

Second-generation YieldGard

Monsanto describes its new YieldGard VT as its second-generation insect control technology. Initial products will be YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2 and YieldGard VT Triple — a corn borer, corn rootworm and Roundup Ready 2 stacked-trait product.

“This is the next generation of YieldGard stacked traits and was developed through our Vector Transformation technology,” explains Tami Craig Schilling, Monsanto's public affairs director for corn products. What makes this technology different is that it does not create stacked hybrids through the traditional breeding processes; instead, two genes are inserted into a plant at the same time. Monsanto claims the benefits are more consistency, higher yield and better insect control.

YieldGard VT will be available through Monsanto and ASI brands and its licensees, and demand is expected to be high. “Producers continue to demand products that will help them increase yield,” Craig Schilling says. “We believe that these products, and this new technology, will help them achieve their goals.”

Sales allocations for the YieldGard VT and VT Triple were strong, and availability should be good, company sources say.

Agrisure RW

Syngenta claims its new Agrisure RW, a corn trait approved late last year, delivers exceptional rootworm control. Agrisure RW will be available individually, as well as in stacks with glyphosate-tolerant hybrids.

Products will be available for the 2007 planting season from NK, Garst, Golden Harvest and other licensed corn suppliers through GreenLeaf Genetics.

The Agrisure line has grown significantly since Syngenta introduced it in 2005. Today the products include Agrisure GT, Agrisure CB/LL, Agrisure GT/CB/LL, Agrisure RW and Agrisure GT/RW. The company also expects that the EPA will approve the stacks Agrisure GT/CB/LL/RW and Agrisure CB/LL/RW and that they will be available for 2008.

Herculex Xtra traits

Growers will see a significant number of seed companies offer the Herculex Xtra insect protection trait this year. An agreement between Dow AgroSciences and DuPont now puts this trait into the hands of regional seed companies.

Herculex Xtra combines the above-ground insect protection of Herculex I insect protection with the below-ground protection of Herculex RW rootworm protection. In addition, all Herculex products come with the LibertyLink trait for tolerance to Liberty herbicide.

“Herculex offers more effective control of both above- and below-ground pests than any other product on the market,” says Ben Kaehler, traits licensing leader for Dow AgroSciences. “Herculex Xtra maintains a consistent expression level of the Bt toxin, which controls rootworms. This is especially important for growers planting corn early. We maintain both early- and late-season protection against corn rootworm larvae.”

The company says the product has performed exceptionally well in university trials and throughout field conditions in the Midwest.

Supplies in 2007 will be “enough to give growers a good opportunity to see how the product performs,” Kaehler says. “There will be a more significant launch of the product in the 2008 growing season.”

Broad-spectrum control

Although the product's name is still under wraps, Dow AgroSciences does says that its new broad-spectrum foliar insecticide will be on the market soon. Depending on final EPA approval, the company hopes producers will have the product in time for many later-season-insect markets.

“This product is a combination of proven active ingredients from Dow AgroSciences that provides broad-spectrum insect control,” says Hank King, marketing specialist for U.S. insecticides at Dow AgroSciences. It will be labeled for use on corn, soybeans and alfalfa, along with several other row crops.

“We don't see many insect pests we can't control with this product,” King says. “And it should prove to offer growers a good value versus competitive alternatives.”

Fungicides

Trilex AL from Bayer CropSciences is a new seed-applied fungicide for soybeans, offering a broad spectrum of disease protection. Trilex AL is a ready-to-use formulation that protects against Rhizoctonia and Pythium, soil-borne pathogens that cause seed and seedling damping off. Trilex AL is a strobilurin fungicide formulated with metalaxyl.

A full Section 3 label for the 2007 growing season is expected for Stratego, a fungicide premix for residual control and systemic protection against Asian soybean rust. Previously, Stratego was sold under a Section 18 exemption from the EPA in specific states for the control of Asian soybean rust.