Store water in the seedbed

A superabsorbent polymer, called Terawet, can absorb 400 times its weight in water. When the nontoxic crystals are incorporated into a soil root zone and irrigated, they become reservoirs of water that feed plants on demand. If the soil is wet, the granules lay absorbent in the soil.

The granules, which are about the same size as table salt, can be broadcast over the soil or planted in the seed slot. When broadcast, the product works for up to 7 years. According to the manufacturer, the polymer can reduce water usage by about 50%, over time.

The company also claims that the crystals can be applied along with fertilizers and other water-soluble additives without significantly affecting the polymer's absorption capabilities.

The product can be used in most any crop, including corn, soybeans and wheat. Price is about $3/lb., with an application rate of about 20 lbs./acre. Contact Terawet Corp., Dept. FIN, 10387 Friars Rd., San Diego, CA 92120, 888/383-7293.

RR canola

In an agreement with Monsanto (and after regulatory approval), Interstate Seed will market Roundup Ready canola seed. USDA must approve nonregulated status for the RR canola before Interstate Seed can market it in the United States. Registration of Monsanto's Roundup Ultra herbicide for use over the top of RR canola is pending.

According to Interstate, only eight canola herbicides are registered for use in the United States, whereas 40 different herbicides for canola are available in Canada. The company says that RR canola seed should be available for the 1999 growing season, depending on EPA and USDA approval. Contact Interstate Seed Co., Dept. FIN, Box 338, West Fargo, ND 58078, 800/437-4120.

Sorghum for lactating cattle

A new, brown, midribbed forage sorghum received high marks in three years of university studies and in-field trials. According to results, the forage fed to lactating cows produced an additional 10 lbs. of milk/cow/day.

AgriBioTech claims that its new genotype BMR 100 has a reduced lignin content in the stem. This reduction improves digestibility by 40%, which allows the forage sorghum to equal the milk production of corn. The company also claims that the genotype provides crude protein levels that are higher than those found in regular forage-type sorghums. Contact AgriBioTech Inc., Dept. FIN, 120 Corporate Park Dr., Henderson, NV 89014, 702/566-2440.

Cut leafhopper infestations in midwestern alfalfa

A new alfalfa that resists potato leafhopper but offers winter hardiness will be available for planting from Cargill.

The company's FQ302HR alfalfa has shown 47% resistance to potato leafhopper damage. According to research, a variety is classified as highly resistant if damage is limited to 30 to 50% of the plants. Studies have shown the damage can reducethe net-per-acre return of alfalfa by up to $50/cutting. The new alfalfa also showed resistance to common diseases such as bacterial, Fusarium and Verticillium wilt; anthracnose; and Phytophthora and Aphanomyces root rot. The new alfalfa is also resistant to stem nematode, spotted alfalfa aphid and pea aphid.

Cargill also announces its new soybean varieties for 1999. According to the company, variety B111 is a good choice for problem fields because it has good Sclerotinia white mold and brown stem rot tolerance. The company claims that many of its new varieties have good tolerance to Phytophthora root rot.

Variety B411CN can be used in all row widths and on various soil types. Roundup Ready variety B254RR has excellent emergence in no-till and minimum-till systems, Cargill says. Other varieties with Roundup Ready tolerance are B225RR, B284RR, B324RR and B434RR. Some of the Roundup Ready varieties also have stacked traits such as resistance to cyst nematode.

Varieties B114RR and B345RR have tolerance to Roundup Ultra herbicide. Contact Cargill Hybrid Seeds, Dept. FIN, Box 5645, Minneapolis, MN 55440, 612/742-6212.