NEMATODES IN corn could soon be on the run with the commercialization of Syngenta's Avicta Complete Corn this spring and the expected registration of Votivo seed treatment from Bayer CropScience later this year.

Avicta Complete Corn combines Avicta seed treatment nematicide with an increased rate of Cruiser seed treatment insecticide and the seed treatment fungicide trio of Apron XL, Maxim XL and Dynasty. Syngenta, in cooperation with numerous seed companies, conducted pre-commercial testing of the seed treatment at 1,000 locations last year.

These trials showed that corn treated with Avicta Complete Corn yielded an average of 5 bu./acre more than seed treated with the current industry standard where corn yields were 190 bu. and less, says Mark Jirak, crop manager, Syngenta Seed Care. He points out that the 2009 growing season was relatively unmarked by early plant stresses, similar to the 2007 season. When plants undergo greater early stress in conditions where nematode populations exist, growers should expect to see a bigger difference in yields between Avicta Complete Corn-treated and standard-treated seed, with the average being greater than the 5 bu./acre difference of last year, he says.

Syngenta recommends that farmers interested in testing the combination seed treatment try it on 10 to 15% of their acreage this year. Avicta Complete Corn will be available through Golden Harvest, Garst, Northrup King, Pioneer Hi-Bred and many regional seed companies.

Biological treatment

Bayer CropScience expects that Votivo, a biological that it will introduce in seed treatment packages with Poncho, will be registered for corn by this fall, followed by registration in cotton and soybeans. The company tested Votivo in Experimental Use Permit (EUP) trials last year in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and most of the Midwestern states. It will test the product in seed company and select grower plots again in 2010 and expects to commercialize it for the 2011 growing season.

Paul Hewitt, seed treatment product manager and Votivo brand manager, Bayer CropScience, says that Votivo creates a living barrier around plant roots to protect the corn from nematode feeding.

According to Bayer, in 2009 trials, corn treated with Votivo and Poncho 500 yielded 4 to 6 bu./acre better than corn treated with Poncho 500 alone, and soybeans treated with Votivo and Trilex 6000 yielded 1 to 2 bu. more per acre than soybeans treated with Trilex 6000 alone.

Bayer CropScience plans to market several additional biological seed treatments in the next three to five years.

The introduction of products to protect corn and soybeans against nematodes has grown in importance in recent years due to changes in production practices. Transgenic traits and more pyrethroid insecticides have replaced carbamate and organophosphate products, but they are not as effective in suppressing nematodes.

Because some types of nematodes are vulnerable to soil disturbance, no-till farming has worked in their favor. The trend toward more corn-on-corn production also has created a scenario where nematode populations can climb.

Site-specific application

Another tool to fight nematodes is the use of site-specific technology to apply nematicides and soil fumigants. This tool has been more widely tested in the Southeast and Mid-South where nematode pressures have been traditionally greater.

Site-specific technology for the application of nematicides and soil fumigants is still a new concept, says Andy Fordice, Telone specialist, Dow AgroSciences. (Telone soil fumigant has been on the market for 40 years.) It requires some investment in new equipment but helps farmers place product only where it is needed, which reduces input costs without sacrificing yields.