THIS SEASON, thanks to groundbreaking technology and advances in trait development, a variety of new products is available to address some of those old problems in corn and soybean crops. Corn rootworm, for one, costs U.S. corn growers an estimated $1 billion annually. In soybeans, manufacturers continue to work to bring new technology to market to address ongoing problems, such as soybean aphids, as well as relatively new concerns, such as Asian soybean rust.

Here's a brief overview of each product in the 2006 corn and soybean lineups.

Corn

Herculex RW

DuPont/Pioneer Hi-Bred International received full regulatory approval for its Herculex rootworm (RW) insect protection trait for the 2006 season. Herculex RW is the second trait commercialized by Pioneer, joining the Herculex I corn borer product, which was launched in 2004.

“Pioneer is excited to bring farmers the latest in high-performing rootworm protection and to provide them with yet another option to increase yield and maximize their acre-by-acre performance,” says Dean Oestreich, company president.

Oestreich says the company anticipates receiving final U.S. approval later this year for Herculex Xtra, which contains the stacked traits of Herculex I and Herculex RW. This stacked product will offer growers the broadest in-plant insect protection available, he says.

Regent TS insecticide

With the registration of BASF Regent TS insecticide, a new corn seed treatment with the active ingredient fipronil, corn growers have access to protection from insect pests, including wireworm, seed corn maggot and grape colaspis. Regent TS also suppresses grubs, flea beetles and thrips.

Roy Lee Carter, seed treatment business manager for BASF, points out that the pests Regent TS controls attack seedling corn, reduce plant stands and plant viability, and ultimately reduce yield.

Regent TS is a water-based formulation that should be applied in a slurry based at the labeled use rate of 2 oz./100 lbs. of seed. Regent TS may be applied with other registered corn seed treatment materials, including fungicides, micronutrients and plant growth regulators, and should be professionally applied using seed-treating equipment that delivers accurate application and coverage.

Oberon SC miticide/insecticide

Corn growers have a new foliar tool with a new mode of action to battle mites: Oberon SC miticide/insecticide from Bayer CropScience.

The active ingredient in Oberon, spiromesifen, is the first member of a new class of chemistry called tetronic acids, explains Jon Mixson, product manager.

Oberon also contains a new, unique mode of action, called lipid biosynthesis inhibitor, or LBI, which can help growers and crop consultants better manage mites and mite resistance issues, Mixson says.

Oberon is highly active against all mite development stages, including eggs, although juvenile stages often are more susceptible than adults.

Effective as either a preventive or threshold treatment, Oberon offers flexible rates and application timing. “For best results, mites should be treated at the beginning of population buildup and before leaf damage and discoloration,” Mixson says.

Oberon is approved for application by air and ground equipment and through overhead irrigation systems. It also shows good plant compatibility and can be safely tank mixed with other crop protection products and micronutrients.

SmartBox GPS

The new SmartBox GPS system from Amvac Chemical Corporation integrates the innovative SmartBox closed-handling delivery system with a GPS controller to allow product use rates to be changed on the go, based on prescription field maps. The system also records applications as they occur for later downloading to field-mapping software.

The SmartBox GPS system uses the new proprietary model SBC-2005 computerized controller, which is linked to a Legacy 6000 GPS controller from Mid-Tech.

The SBC-2005 SmartBox controller includes an upgraded processor, more memory and new communications software. This allows it to interface with the Legacy 6000 to capture spatial data and drive variable-rate applications. The new SmartBox software also includes a new speed override feature for application flexibility at end rows. Growers who do not want GPS capability can use the SBC-2005 controller without the GPS controller.

SmartBox GPS will allow growers to track the yield value of using a granular corn rootworm insecticide when used in conjunction with yield maps. In addition, growers will be able to document the use of granular insecticides to fulfill refuge requirements in the same field as transgenic corn rootworm hybrids.

The system also will be used for variable-rate application of Bolster 15G nematicide for control of soybean cyst nematode (SCN), according to Bill Jacobs, Midwest regional sales manager for Amvac.

“SmartBox GPS enables Bolster to be applied at variable rates depending on how SCN affects yield across a field,” he says. “Treating ‘hot spots’ as opposed to entire fields reduces costs and concentrates Bolster where it provides the highest return on investment.”

For more information, call 888/762-7826 or visit www.smartboxsystem.com.

Soybeans

Gaucho seed-applied insecticide

Soybean growers now have a new line of defense against soybean aphids and bean leaf beetles: Gaucho seed-applied insecticide from Bayer CropScience. Gaucho is now fully registered by the EPA for use on soybean seed. For the past two years, the EPA had granted approval of a Section 18 emergency use registration for the product in selected states.

Gaucho seed-applied insecticide has systemic properties that make it valuable in controlling piercing/sucking insects. The use of Gaucho on soybean seed will control early-season aphids up to 65 days after planting, by reducing aphid populations to below economic threshold.

“Early-season aphid infestations have been identified as causing a reduction in pod numbers on the soybean plant,” says Ray Knake, technology development manager for the company. When conditions are favorable for aphid reproduction and survival, which result in aphid numbers above threshold, a later-season insecticide spray also may be warranted.

Gaucho will be widely available for the 2006 growing season. Growers who want the additional protection provided by Gaucho should contact their soybean seed supplier, because the insecticide is applied directly to the seed by seed companies and seed conditioners.