At a time when many are forecasting rough sailing ahead for the ag industry as a whole, seed treatment companies are investing substantial capital in bringing new technologies to market.
Valent U.S.A. Corp., Walnut Creek, CA, is among a handful of companies expecting to receive registration on a new fungicide seed treatment system in time for the 2014 season. The new seed treatment system is a combination of two actives, metalaxyl and ethaboxam, the latter being the “first completely new fungicide seed treatment active targeting oomycete pathogens (pythium and phytopthora) to be registered in the U.S. in the past 15-20 years,” according to Dair McDuffee, seed treatment specialist.
“This is a product that began development around eight years ago, and it’s been in field development for the past six years, and it’s just incredibly rare to have a chemistry this new hit the market for fungicide seed treatments,” he says.
Valent identified a need in the market for a new active fungicide ingredient as other existing solutions seemed to fall by the wayside performance-wise.
“Until now, growers have been faced with pathogens that are less affected by existing chemistries, either due to species shifts, tolerance or challenging early season conditions,” says McDuffee. “I think what’s notable about ethaboxam combined with metalaxyl in comparison to the current standards is our system increases the level of control, longevity and the spectrum of pythium species and phytophthora that can be controlled.”
Valent put these claims to the test and then some. The system has been evaluated under a partnership with The Ohio State University Extension at a field plot in northwestern Ohio alongside both untreated beans, as well as some competitors’ products that are also being evaluated by Dr. Anne E. Dorrance, professor of plant pathology and a renowned expert in phytophthora-tolerance. Dorrance goes to great lengths to create the absolute ideal environment for phytophthora and pythium infestation, so a product that performs well in her trials should thrive in situations where those diseases are being managed.
“We’ve got what I call the ‘magnificent 10’ which are ten species of pathogens that are really hot on seed, so we set up these tests where we’re screening different seed treatment actives and formulations,” says Dorrance. “We’ve put this product into some of our hottest fields where we know we’ve got a plethora of pythium species and it’s stood up really well and the stands are just awesome.”
Valent anticipates EPA registration in time for the 2014 planting season, according to McDuffee.
Bayer CropScience also has news on a coming product for soybean growers.
“Looking past the 2014 season, we are currently testing a seed treatment for sudden death syndrome that would protect from the fusarium that infects the plant, thereby causing sudden death bacteria to be introduced and move into it,” says Ethan Luth, Seed Growth product manager. “There are certain geographical areas where growers have stopped planting soybeans because of the yield losses associated with this disease, and this product is able to stop the advance of the disease.”
Luth predicts the technology could be a ‘game changer’ for both seed dealers and soybean growers alike.
Meanwhile, Syngenta is gearing up for its spring 2014 full commercial launch of Clariva Complete Beans, which contain a new mode of action for soybeans. Clariva targets soybean cyst nematodes, a pest responsible for an estimated $1.5 billion in crop damages per year according to Wouter Berkhout, Seedcare asset lead.
“We have actually been testing Clariva this past year; we sent out around 40,000 units of treated seeds to the seed companies and retailers in our NK line of soybeans so people can see it, touch it and feel how it handles,” he says. “We’ve found two major plus points from that: it handles like any other seed treatment, so retailers should be comfortable switching to it, and its run an average of between three and five percent yield increase over the three year trial.”
Berkhout says Clariva is already registered in 34 states, 12 of which are in the Midwest, and Syngenta anticipates the product being readily available in all major soybean production areas for the 2014 growing season.