What is in this article?:
- Farmers have more choices for insect and herbicide tolerance traits than ever before.
- Mixing up trait choices can help avoid resistance, and options are available.
- Know pest profiles - weeds and insects - before picking hybrids.
Managing modes of action for both insect and weed control traits is a hot topic. The rise of glyphosate-resistant weeds means changing up your weed control practices, but the herbicide tolerance trait still has plenty of value for keeping most weeds under control. The bigger question is a worry over cases of corn rootworm resistance developing in some pockets of the country.
"I think we've learned from history that corn rootworm has overcome a number of management tactics," notes Tom Eickhoff, Monsanto corn systems lead. "It's overcome several classes of insecticides, overcome rotation…it's certainly a dynamic and challenging pest."
If you're dealing with that problem it makes sense to look at your total corn rootworm management strategy, Eickhoff advises. "I think the conversation starts with assessing the field and the overall pressure and the past cropping history for that field," he notes. "The choice might be a Genuity Smart Stax hybrid or consideration to rotate to an alternative crop. You want to use the best tool to get the corn rootworm population to a manageable level."
Smart Stax, which includes technology from Monsanto and Dow Agrosciences includes Herculex traits, which Ben Kaehler, U.S. seeds general manager notes is the "most widely used trait in the marketplace today." The company's Herculex corn borer trait, while not first on the market, was able to bring a broader-spectrum above-ground trait to market that "expanded protection that growers got with an above ground Bt trait," he adds."
Herculex, in fact, is included in a lot of stacks beyond Smart Stax including Optimum trait packages from Pioneer and Agrisure traits from Syngenta. This table (PDF) notes those traits and their inclusion.
There's a new sheriff in town for control of corn rootworm and it represents a new mode of action too. Syngenta will offer AgriSure Duracade for the first time. The trait, following Syngenta's usual approach, will be paired with the AgriSure RW trait to provide dual modes of action. "We don't put single-trait insect control packages into the market," says Jill Wheeler, Syngenta product lead, commercial traits.
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Duracade is an engineered protein that Wheeler says combines the consistent action of a lepidopteran control trait with the power of a coleopteran trait. "We've been spoiled by the consistency of the lep traits, this is the first hybrid Bt protein," she explains.
As with herbicide products, switching out modes of action for insect control makes sense too, the challenge is knowing who is using what in their trait packages to manage that. The table on page 29 details the traits used in each of the transgenic packages offered for 2014.