Cat enters Big Red country

Caterpillar's high-tech acre eater, the Lexion series of combines, will now carry the label "assembled in Nebraska." Although the majority of each combine is still built at the Claas plant in Harsewinkel, Germany, final assembly has moved from a Claas plant in Indiana to a temporary facility in Omaha. The company expects to exit the temporary facility and move into its new combine marketing/manufacturing location in Omaha in early 2000.

New Holland sprayers coming

With Agco, Case and Deere already in the sprayer business, the final major equipment player is now venturing into that product category. New Holland recently formed a joint venture with Ag-Chem Equipment to sell Ag-Chem's smallest self-propelled sprayer, model 554, through New Holland's dealer network, possibly beginning in late fall. Each company will hold a 50% interest in the venture and will share in its management. In other venture possibilities, New Holland may adopt Ag-Chem's site-specific technology, and Ag-Chem may seek distribution help from New Holland in specific areas outside of North America.

Healthy soy labeling

The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) is applauding the Food and Drug Administration's new proposal to allow food labels to say that soy protein consumption reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. AFFI says that such a statement on the food label would expand the demand and market share for these products.

AgrEvo's LibertyLink, SeedLink and StarLink

In almost 80% of 149 on-farm field trials last summer, LibertyLink and warranted corn hybrids treated with Liberty outyielded fields treated with conventional herbicides. The company claims that crop safety accounted for a 5-bu. average yield advantage with a Liberty program.

*AgrEvo's Bt corn StarLink has received an expanded label for control of southwestern corn borer and suppression of black cutworm. Good field activity on these pests caused the company to expand the label beyond control of European corn borer and suppression of corn stalk borer. Field studies show that even when European corn borer levels are low, southwestern corn borer levels are higher and more widespread. So control of both pests is important, along with the suppression of stalk borer in no-till fields, the company reports.

*Another new "Link" product from AgrEvo is claimed to put an end to a seed corn producer's need to detassel. Called SeedLink, it uses biotechnology to render the plant male-sterile so detasseling is not necessary. A new gene construct is added to SeedLink's female parent line. The gene produces a protein that prevents development of the pollen nutritive layer within the pollen production organs. Hybrids produced through SeedLink also will be LibertyLink hybrids because the LibertyLink gene will be present in the male and passed along to all hybrid progeny.

*AgrEvo and Bayer have teamed up for a weed-control program that combines the Bayer's preemergence herbicide Axiom followed by Liberty herbicide on LibertyLink and warranted corn hybrids. If the weed-control program does not work, the two companies will either provide reimbursement up to the value of the products used or provide Liberty for retreatment.

*Most farmers are concerned about herbicide crop injury, according to a survey of 15,000 Midwest corn growers conducted last summer by AgrEvo. Eighty-one percent of the growers said that they believe that herbicide crop injury is very important to yield.

Bt refuge plan for 2000

Thanks to National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) efforts, growers may have a simplified and unified agreement on how much Bt corn can be planted in 2000.In September, NCGA called the major seed companies together to reach an agreement on the amount of refuge needed to maintain Bt corn as a viable product, because individual companies were releasing different requirements.

Key elements of this agreement-in-principle include a minimum 20% non-Bt corn refuge near plantings of Bt corn, a simple grower agreement and management requirements for insect resistance, a grower education program, grower surveys to determine adoption of guidelines and monitoring for insect resistance to Bt corn.