THE OLD IPM mantra was treat only what needs to be treated with chemicals and/or seed. But today's IPM practices have changed because seed now contains most of the ingredients to manage pest problems.

University of Illinois entomologist Michael Gray agrees that IPM is shifting to a new paradigm. “Increasingly we are integrating an assortment of genes into corn plants. Some of these genes express insecticidal proteins, and that may be the trademark of IPM in commercial corn in the future,” he says.

Pest management has also shifted into an insurance policy of sorts. “Producers can plant seed with broad protection against a variety of pests. They can spray glyphosate or glufosinate to control weeds, walk away and spend far less time scouting fields and using economic thresholds,” Gray says. “It certainly lessens the worry if pest thresholds reach a level in which they cause economic damage.”

Although some producers may consider shifting to non-Bt hybrids, they must account for the added time needs. “If you don't want to use Bt hybrids, you must invest more time, energy and effort to ensure you don't get a flare-up and pests reach an economic threshold,” Gray says. — Mark Moore