Reflections On 2008 — Syngenta’s View

From a weed control standpoint, the 2008 planting season is something that many growers would like to forget.

With the widespread planting delays, even some die-hard believers in pre-emergence weed control skipped their normal routine to make up for lost planting time. Growers who applied a full rate of preemergence herbicide in corn or soybeans were generally in good shape. For the rest — especially total post but also foundation pres followed by post — many of those acres started out weedy and only got worse as rain delayed postemergence treatments well beyond the point where yield loss begins. Weeds grew larger and tougher to control. Many went to seed and we’re anticipating much larger weed seed populations in 2009.

To encourage full rates of preemergence herbicide application in corn and soybeans, the AgriEdge Corn and Soybean programs from Syngenta offer incentives in 2009 for full label application rates of Lumax, Lexar, Bicep II Magnum, Bicep Lite II Magnum and Camix pre-emergence herbicides on corn hybrids from Garst, Golden Harvest or NK Seeds, as well as Prefix preemergence herbicide on NK Brand soybean varieties. Considering rising input costs, the AgriEdge programs encourage good agronomic practices that could help maximize yield.

We think grower interest will be especially high in 2009, driven by the current value of corn and soybeans and the need to protect yield from early-season weed competition. A 10% yield loss on 180-bushel corn might have been worth only $36 three years ago, today it can mean more than $90/A in lost revenue. That’s roughly a 300% increase and we expect it will be a real driver toward more preemergence herbicide application and participation in AgriEdge in 2009.

We’ll also remember 2008 as a year when cool, wet soils challenged seedling emergence. We’re getting very good reports on the performance of CruiserMaxx Beans brand seed treatment for soybeans. Dealers are telling us that soybean seed treated with CruiserMaxx Beans seed treatment met the challenge with superior emergence, better disease protection, and significantly lower incidences of re-plant. Looking forward to 2009, we anticipate a continued trend of early soybean planting for higher yield potential and we’re addressing that through the AgriEdge Soybean program with incentives for using NK Brand soybeans with the Roundup Ready trait treated with CruiserMaxx Beans insecticide/fungicide. Here again, we’re taking a practice with a proven agronomic pay-off and providing incentives to help growers minimize their rising input costs.

Finally, any review of 2008 would not be complete without a discussion of fungicides. Rain, rain, and more rain put out the welcome mat for a variety of diseases. Growers have benefited from the value of fungicide treatment for both corn and soybeans. Quilt and Quadris fungicides performed very well this year by enhancing Plant Performance through broad-spectrum disease control and improved plant physiology.

The take-home lesson from 2008 that we can apply to ’09 is the importance of vigilant field scouting and having a plan in place for farm operations. As prices for corn and soybeans rise, the threshold level for fungicide application gets lower and the potential agronomic pay-off rises. It’s another win-win situation that we’re addressing through the 2009 AgriEdge program by offering incentives for qualifying applications of Quadris and Quilt fungicides.

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