Battling Multi-Pest Complex

With crops reaching maturity and harvest ongoing, growers need to be on the lookout for corn damaged by the multi-pest complex. The six insects that make up the multi-pest complex damage some 238 million bushels of corn each year and cost American corn growers more than $1.1 billion1 annually in lost yield and grain quality.

New research from Syngenta Seeds demonstrates that corn damaged by the multi-pest complex is more susceptible to mycotoxin contamination, resulting in lower quality grain and price per bushel when it’s time to sell.

The damage from the multi-pest complex causes stress and injury to the kernel tissue, which allows spores from the fungi to gain access, proliferate and produce mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are a toxic by-product of fungi, which reduce grain quality and have the potential to cause health problems in animals and humans when found in concentrations above the acceptable threshold in harvested grain. Aflatoxin and fumonisin are the most commonly occurring mycotoxins found this time of year in harvested corn.

“The mycotoxin issue really catches a grower’s attention when part or all of his grain is rejected due to mycotoxin contamination,” says Bruce Battles, agronomy marketing manager, Syngenta Seeds. “It is important for growers to understand that much of the mold and mycotoxins they see this fall could have been prevented or reduced with improved control over the six insects that make up the multi-pest complex.”

Syngenta Seeds recently collaborated with university researchers to better understand the impact multi-pest complex damage has on mycotoxin development and how insect control improvements can help reduce mycotoxins. Recent field research with the Agrisure Viptera trait demonstrated that:

Improved insect control with the Agrisure Viptera trait reduced the incidence of mycotoxin contamination from both aflatoxin and fumonisin.

Hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera trait demonstrated an 83 percent reduction in aflatoxin levels compared to levels detected in Agrisure 3000GT hybrids, and a 91 percent reduction compared to levels detected in Agrisure GT hybrids2.

Corn earworm control in hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera trait also reduced fumonisin levels by 78 percent on average3.

“Any time we are able to get a reduction of insect damage in corn ears, we typically expect to see a reduction in the level of aflatoxin,” says Dr. Roy Parker, Texas AgriLife Extension entomologist. “In this study, we found the corn with the Agrisure Viptera trait had by far the lowest level of aflatoxin when compared to other Bt and non-Bt corn hybrids.”

Upon receipt of the remaining regulatory and key import market approvals, growers will have the option of planting seed stacked with the Agrisure Viptera trait*. The Agrisure Viptera trait is a forthcoming corn trait from Syngenta Seeds that has been shown to provide high levels of in-seed corn earworm control. The Agrisure Viptera trait features Vip3A, a new mode of action in corn to control the six insects that make up the multi-pest complex – corn earworm, fall armyworm, Western bean cutworm, black cutworm, stalk borer and sugarcane borer.

For more information on the multi-pest complex, visit

1 Census 2007 USDA, USDA Risk Management Agency’s internal indemnity database, Aflatoxin Center of Excellence of the South, Syngenta Entomology Research.
2 Results from one location, replicated trial, 2009 Syngenta and Roy D. Parker, Texas A&M trial.
3 Twenty locations, 2009 Syngenta trials.

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