2012 Insect Control Review: What’s Bugging You?

When you think about it, the amazing array of crop protection options available in today’s marketplace can present a mind-boggling list of decisions. On the upside, it’s also a great opportunity to market inputs to your growers to achieve optimum yields on every acre. It’s all about helping growers make the best choices for the best outcome at the end of the growing season.

Between traited seeds, refuge-in-a-bag (RIB) products, seed treatments, insecticides and evolving pest pressures, 2012 will bring a plethora of insect management issues. Putting the pieces of the puzzle together to achieve control of yield-robbing insects allows opportunities for knowledgeable retail partners.

We’ve gathered insight from some of the best minds in the business to help you tailor advice to best serve your individual customers. Although opinions and insect pressures vary across the Midwest, there are basic principles and new approaches to help guide you down the path of a successful 2012 growing season.

Lessons Learned in 2011

“Insects always come up on top, given enough time. Knowing that, we watch the traditional row crop pests plus different emerging species,” says Dr. Wayne Bailey, associate professor, University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences. “Stink bug is the typical threat, and we’re still working on it. That pest will become a much bigger problem as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) population continues to grow around the country.

“It’s one of the most difficult stink bugs to control and now causing problems in the Southeast and Northeast. It invaded our continent from Southeast Asia and targets the soybean pod. BMSB also attacks a broad host range, so it will go to cotton, soybeans, corn and other crops. Although not officially in Missouri, it’s on two of our borders – southern Illinois and west of Kansas City.” Other sources report it has been identified on various crops in at least 33 states.

Bailey is not sure what pressure BMSB will cause over time. For now, he’s advising vigilant scouting. The pest has impacted fruit and some vegetable crops, and infestations have been found in sweet corn, field corn and soybeans around the country.

He suggests checking out the Pennsylvania State University Extension website: ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/brown-marmorated-stink-bug. Penn State researchers first identified the pest in the U.S. You’ll find photos, descriptions of the pest and learn about the damage it can cause.

Another curve ball thrown by Mother Nature in 2011 was heavy pressure from corn rootworm in the Midwest, particularly in Northern Illinois and Southeast Iowa. According to Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann and other experts, the problem is complicated by finding of suspected rootworm resistance to a Bt trait found in single-gene YieldGard corn.

Bailey also reports emerging populations of secondary pests. “Our problem is not with the traited seeds. I’m seeing more liquid insecticides going into the soil with fertilizer, higher rates and alternative strategies to target pests such as wireworms and white grubs. You can’t count on the traits to cover everything.”

At Iowa State University, Dr. Matt O’Neal and his team, including ISU plant breed Walter Fehr, are conducting research on soybean aphid control via a study called Resistance to Aphids Gene (RAG). “What we’ve learned over the past two years in that the RAG genes can slow down the amount of aphids that accumulate on the plant. Combination of the RAG 1 and 2 genes results in a soybean line where few aphids accumulate on the plant. If I were a grower, I would start asking retailers and manufacturers when the RAG genes will be available – particularly in areas where there’s been significant aphid activity that required spraying.”

O’Neal adds, “With late season aphid infestations, the trade off is whether you’re applying an insecticide with a tractor and sprayer versus aerial application. Later in the season, rolling over the beans can cause costly damage. If aphids are above threshold spray, keep in mind difficult variables such as the growth stage of the beans. Our research shows that past R5, there isn’t much benefit to spraying for soybean aphids.” To learn more, visit www.ent.iastate.edu/soybeanaphid/newsreleases.

Manufacturer Advice, Innovations

Charlie Foresman, Monsanto corn product manager, reports that in 2012 the company will launch Genuity SmartStax hybrids in the RIB Complete package in all Monsanto brands. He says, “2011 was more of a Genuity SmartStax introduction with refuge in a bag. In 2012, even more farmers will get an opportunity to experience the benefits of Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn technology which delivers a simplified refuge and the broadest spectrum of above and below-ground insect protection.”

In 2012 Genuity VT Double PRO RIB Complete, pending state authorizations, will provide 95% Genuity VT Double PRO and 5% non-Bt seed. It’s designed to help simplify the planting process and offer the convenience to meet refuge compliance. Benefits include broad spectrum control of major above-ground corn insect pests with tolerance to Roundup herbicides.

Foresman adds, “The Monsanto genetics from our advanced breeding program and the convenience brought forward in the past two years from refuge-in-a-bag products carry yields to the next level.”

Dow AgroSciences will launch its Refuge Advanced corn powered by SmartStax.  “It’s a single-bag solution to solve three concerns: extended durability, no separate refuge needs to hinder yield potential and meet refuge requirements to control below and above ground insects,” says Casey Onstot, Dow Traits Marketing Manager.

Dow studies show a built-in 5% refuge seed combined with 95% SmartStax seed will return approximately $13 more acre under minimal insect pressure compared to other options that require 20% refuge

Regarding the threat of invading stink bugs in soybeans, Dr. Roy Boykin, technical asset lead at Syngenta advises, “Scout early and act quickly to prevent and stop damage from the BMSB’s amazing feeding appetite.” He recommends Endigo ZC insecticide with a dual mode of action for effective control of a broad range of foliar insect pests, including stink bugs.

For corn, Craig Abell, Syngenta crop specialist, recommends Force insecticide to combat the growing corn rootworm pressure shift seen along the Iowa and Illinois corridor in 2011. Force provides stronger stands, improved yields and fully-developed roots to prevent against weather that can cause down corn. Application flexibility allows t-band or in-furrow treatments on both trait and conventional corn acres.

“For 2012, we’ll also offer Besiege, a new corn insecticide. It combines two active ingredients with distinct modes of action (diamide and pyrethroid) to provide broad spectrum control of key lepidopterans such as corn earworm and fall armyworm, plus other troublesome pests such as flea beetle, and is highly effective on species that have tolerance to other chemistries,” says Abell. Check with your local Extension experts to see if Besiege use is authorized in your state.

The Aphid Management System from Syngenta is an environmental stewardship approach designed to control soybean aphids. It includes multiple modes of action combined with NK brand soybean genetics; an aphid resistant trait; CruiserMaxx Beans insecticide/fungicide seed treatment and Endigo ZC insecticide or Warrior II with Zeon Technology insecticide treatment if aphid populations exceed economic thresholds.

“We’ve combined multiple technologies to deliver what we refer to as the first ‘in-the-bag aphid solution’,” explains Quinn Showalter, Syngenta product lead for commercial traits. “This approach is about ease, convenience and risk management. If for some reason, aphids reach threshold levels, we offer a $5 per acre warranty program to provide a foliar insecticide application of Endigo ZC or Warrior II with Zeon Technology.”

DuPont Prevathon foliar insecticide, powered by the active ingredient rynaxypr, was launched in 2011 to control the entire worm complex, including corn rootworm and Southwest European corn borer, in cotton and corn, says Lars Swanson, DuPont insect control portfolio manager. “We’ve seen great control and yield benefits. Retailers and growers can expect broader availability and supply for 2012.”

In 2012 MANA Crop Protection is introducing a new formulation of lambda-cyhalothrin called Paradigm, reports Keith Miller, insecticide and fungicide manager. “This new product strengthens our portfolio of insecticides by improving upon our already successful Silencer brand,” he says. “Paradigm comes to market as a new and highly unique formulation – which represents a significant change in product offerings within the pyrethroid market.”

According to Miller, Paradigm will provide powerful control of growers’ primary and secondary pests in a new formulation platform that reduces odor, skin sensitivity and offers a better safety profile – including reduction of the signal word ‘warning’ now to ‘caution.’”

He adds, “Seed traits deliver important pest control and have improved yields, yet they are not full proof as we see rootworm resistance develop. As a result, we are seeing more use and greater demand for granular and liquid insecticides.”


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