Crop Protection: Just Getting Better

Wind-damaged corn

The 2008 growing season has certainly had its share of weather-related challenges — including a cool, wet spring in the eastern part of the Corn Belt that delayed planting, flooding along the Mississippi River that ruined acres of crops, and continuing drought conditions in the South and Southeast — each bringing on its own set of pest challenges.

Going into the season, retailers had a healthy-sized set of new herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides to become familiar with, but it didn’t stop there. After CropLife® magazine’s annual Crop Protection Review series was published at the beginning of the year, more products came out, and as always, there are more products in the pipeline to help growers attain top yields.

That’s why we asked our in-house “experts” to take a quick break and give you a mid-year briefing on these newest products and label changes. Maybe you remember these guys: Reid W. Acker, Bugsy B. Gohn, and Rusty Beane.

Reid On Weeds
Let’s start with Reid the Weed Guy.

Dear Reid: Tell us about the newest herbicides.

Well, as I mentioned in January’s “Helpful Herbicide Hints,” the active ingredients (a.i.s) in most of the newer herbicides aren’t brand new, they’re just in new pre­mixes, new formulations, or have a new use. Let’s just say some aspect is new. My friend Chris Boerboom, who’s an Extension weed scientist at the University of Wisconsin, says that if you understand the familiar ingredients, you understand the new product pretty well.

Back in April, FMC Corp. came out with its Cadet herbicide, which contains the a.i. fluthiacet-methyl. The company had acquired the sole marketing rights for this product in the U.S. corn and soybean markets.

Cadet provides selective post­emergence control of tough broadleaf weeds in both corn and soybeans. What’s nice about this product is that it’s a reliable, effective tank mix partner with a variety of herbicides, including glyphosate. It eliminates weeds that glyphosate alone can’t control, including resistant biotypes.

One of the newest herbicide products that I’ve heard about is Bayer CropScience‘s Ignite 280 SL herbicide for LibertyLink crops, which gives growers a nonselective alternative to glyphosate. It’ll actually be available to your grower-customers in 2009, and contains the a.i. glufosinate-ammonium, which also found in the company’s Liberty herbicide.

Ignite was just approved by EPA at the end of July and controls more than 120 broadleaf weeds and grasses, including tough-to-control, ALS- (acetolactate synthase inhibitor), and glyphosate-resistant weeds. It’s registered for use on all LibertyLink crops, and by that I mean LibertyLink (LL) corn, including all Herculex and Agrisure CB (corn borer)/LL hybrids, and new LL soybeans, which are on target to be available for the 2009 season, along with FiberMax cotton and InVigor canola.

The product manager for Ignite, Andy Hurst, says it’s a new, more powerful, cost-effective formulation. It controls weeds in days, not weeks, and globally, there’s no documented weed resistance to Ignite.

Another new product that we just heard about is Valor (flumioxazin) from Valent U.S.A. Corp. OK, it’s already used in other crops like soybeans and cotton, but it’s new to corn. Actually, it’s the first preemergence PPO (protoporphyrinogen oxidase) herbicide for field corn. Your growers can plant it 14 days before planting no-till or minimal-till field corn, and its new mode of action helps control tough broadleaf weeds and offers competitive grass control.

John Pawlak, Valor’s product development manager, says tank-mixing Valor with atrazine and using it prior to planting followed by an in-season Roundup application or using Valor preplant by itself followed by a post application of atrazine and Roundup have been the most effective uses in trials.

Dear Reid: Didn’t I hear something about a change in BASF’s Status herbicide?

You’d be right about that. Status came out in time for the 2007 growing season as a broad-spectrum control of broaleaf weeds in corn. Now it’s registered for use on popcorn, too. Same deal — broad-spectrum broadleaf postemergence control, crop safety, and simplicity.

That’s not the only label change, though. Valent’s Select Max herbicide with Inside Technology is now registered to control volunteer corn, including volunteer Roundup Ready corn, prior to replanting corn. The product also became part of Monsanto’s Roundup Rewards Program this spring.

Dear Reid: What role, if any, will these products play in deterring glyphosate resistance?

From what many of the manufacturers tell me, they look for that characteristic in every new product in their pipeline, so we’ll be seeing more and more products that can be used to combat glyphosate resistance. No one wants to lose glyphosate as a herbicide, and retailers can really help their grower-customers focus on developing resistance programs for glyphosate and other classes of herbicides, including ALS herbicides.

For example, Bayer CropSciences’ LibertyLink system is built on the concept of offering a non-glyphosate mode of action, one of the key ways to fight weed resistance/tolerance. FMC’s Cadet tackles glyphosate-resistant biotypes, and Valent’s Valor is part of the preemergence herbicide trend, which can reduce the need for glyphosate later.

Dear Reid: What’s the story on glyphosate production? Will my growers be able to get Roundup next year? How much will it cost?

Oh sure, don’t ask any tough questions! Basically it comes down to this: More and more growers around the world want Roundup, but currently there isn’t enough being manufactured to fill all those orders. Yeah, that’s right, even with all those generics companies making glyphosate and Monsanto Co. at full production.

I sat in on Monsanto’s announcement about its glyphosate production expansion, and the company says it’ll supply the U.S. grower first. With such great demand, they determined that an expansion project will be cost-effective at one of their production facilities (they have two in the U.S.), and they expect that project to be completed about a year from now. Monsanto anticipates it will be able to produce around 20% more Roundup beginning in 2010.

Personally, I haven’t seen the pricing for next year, but some of my pals that spend time in the local coffee shops tell me the price will likely go up. Basic economics, folks. Monsanto says the price could go either way. Let’s face it, crop protection product prices could well be up in all areas by next season. Another strong indication of that is Syngenta Crop Protection‘s recent announcement that if crude oil prices continue to increase, the company may be looking at an across-the-board 10% price increase in its crop protection products.

Bugsy On Bugs
Next up to the plate is Bugsy B. Gohn, our bug guy.

Dear Bugsy: What’s new in insecticides since we last saw you in February?
There are some label changes and new additions to existing product line-ups since the “Insightful Insect Instructions” article in February.
For example, Hero insecticide (zeta-cypermethrin + bifenthrin) from FMC received an expanded label and can now be used in soybeans to control tough foliar pests. This pyrethroid technology offers a dual mode of action.

Makhteshim Agan of North America (MANA) received supplemental registration of Alias 4F insecticide, which contains the a.i. imidacloprid for control of soybean aphids in soybeans.

Bayer also unveiled its Trilex 6000 Soybean System which helps growers manage seed-applied inputs with custom-matched solutions. It combines technologies of Trilex, YieldShield, and Allegiance seed-applied fungicides, Gaucho seed-applied insecticide, Celgard film coating, and Pro-Ized Red Colorant in one seed treatment. A series of Midwest university yield trials in 2006 found soybeans treated with Trilex 6000 Soybean System delivered an average yield 13% higher than untreated soybeans.

Syngenta also has two products to talk about, Warrior II with Zeon Technology and Endigo.

Warrior II with Zeon Technology (lambda-cyhalothrin) is a more concentrated formulation of Warrior with Zeon Technology and will replace it in most markets for use in corn, beans, cotton, etc.

The company’s Endigo cotton insecticide is now approved for use on soybeans, protecting against key soybean foliar insect pests that damage the crop during reproductive growth stages. It combines the proven performance of lambda-cyhalothrin and thiamethoxam, making it a great tool for resistance management. Endigo is a restricted use pesticide, and while sales begin this year in the South, Syngenta is planning a limited launch for 2009 and a full launch in 2010.

Also, AMVAC purchased the Phorate insecticide line — which is used in corn and other crops to protect against chewing and piercing-sucking insects— from Aceto Agricul­tural Chemicals. The acquistion was made in connection with the settlement of pending litigation between the two.

Dear Bugsy: Tell us about the DuPont/Syngenta deal.
Manufacturers like to wheel and deal to strengthen their portfolios; this often allows both to bring products to the market sooner. DuPont Crop Protection and Syngenta announced an agreement in July that will meet both goals for each company.
The pair will share the costs to prepare the regulatory studies for DuPont’s Cyazypyr, a new broadspectrum insecticide for the control of lepidoptera and sucking pests, leading to expanded global registrations and commercialization opportunities for both companies. Cyazypyr is complementary to the DuPont Rynaxypyr insect control product that Syngenta is developing in mixtures with its own leading insect control products.

Rusty On Diseases
It’s Rusty Beane’s turn to answer your questions about fungicides.

Dear Rusty: We’ve heard from the other guys, but now we want to know — what’s new in the fungicide market?
Asian soybean rust products are still an important focus for manufacturers, even though the spread of this disease has been fairly soft since it first crossed our shores in 2004. They realize that soybean rust could devastate our soybean crop in this country if it develops into a full-blown outbreak while the plants are at a vulnerable stage.

For that reason, the approval of several products for use in Asian soybean rust is really good news for your growers.

Alto fungicide (cyproconazole) from Syngenta previously had a Section 18 Quarantine Exemption for use against rust, but EPA has now given it a full Section 3 approval. This triazole fungicide provides excellent curative activity with residual control and is crop-safe with little chance of leaf burning.
Syngenta’s Quadris Xtra fungicide also moved up from a Section 18 to Section 3 label. It’s a combination of the preventive activity of the familiar Quadris (azoxystrobin) fungicide and the curative activity of Alto in one convenient premix.

Bayer received EPA’s nod for its Proline 480 SC fungicide as a soybean product. Containing the active ingredient prothioconazole, it also can be tank-mixed with the company’s Stratego fungicide.

As Bugsy mentioned earlier, Bayer also unveiled its Trilex 6000 Soybean System. It combines technologies of Trilex, YieldShield, and Allegiance seed-applied fungicides, Gaucho seed-applied insecticide, Celgard film coating, and Pro-Ized Red Colorant in one seed treatment to improve soybean yields.

Dear Rusty: Anything else we should be aware of?
Well, we just have to mention two exclusive fungicide seed treatment agreements that Monsanto is involved in, one with BASF SE for soybeans and the other for corn with Bayer CropScience.

The first deal centers around BASF’s top-selling fungicide F 500, the same a.i. found in Headline fungicide with its disease control and plant health benefits. The treatment, expected to be commercialized in conjunction with the launch of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean seed offering, will provide U.S. soybean growers with early-season disease protection which results in improved stand and extra vitality.

The pairing with Bayer CropScience focuses on Bayer CropScience’s new Vortex corn fungicide, which provides enhanced broadspetrum disease control and seed safety for corn seed. Expected to be commercialized in conjunction with the planned launch of Monsanto’s eight-trait stack SmartStax seed offering in 2010, the seed treatment will provide corn growers with significant improvement in early season protection against seedling diseases and insects.
In both agreements, Monsanto will have exclusive rights to commercialize the new fungicide seed treatments in their seed products.

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