The northwest corner of Illinois has some of the highest corn rootworm (CRW) pressure in the state, writes Amy Campbell at Syngenta Thrive. That puts Steve Marr, sales agronomist at Pearl City Elevator, Inc., in Warren, at ground zero in the fight to protect yields from what’s known as “the billion-dollar pest.”
“That’s not an exaggeration by any means,” Marr says of the moniker. “Last year, corn rootworm definitely took a toll on the crops. So this year, it’s a point of emphasis for growers who are trying to decide how to best control it and mitigate their losses.”
Joining Marr and area growers in that effort is Susie Heavner, sales representative for NK Seeds. While still in college, Heavner signed on as an intern with Syngenta. After graduation, she started as a developmental sales representative and then took a sales rep role, where she now serves northwestern Illinois.
“One thing I knew I wanted to provide as a service was working with retailers to help their growers better manage corn rootworm,” she says.
Since then, Heavner and Marr have been spreading the word about NK corn and traits, including Agrisure Duracade trait stacks. These trait stacks offer a unique protein and multiple modes of action that make them the foundation of any CRW management program. Managing below-ground pests also pays off above-ground with healthier plants, fuller leaves that allow for increased photosynthesis and maximum grain fill, and more robust stalks that stand tall.
“Nothing’s going to be a silver bullet for any kind of pest,” Heavner says. “But what I’m trying to provide to Steve is another tool in his toolbox that he can use to help his growers avoid the high cost corn rootworm can impose on their crops.”
Any growers concerned about CRW should have a multiyear management plan in place that incorporates multiple control strategies for each field, including crop rotation, CRW-traited corn hybrids, soil-applied insecticides and adult beetle management. The Syngenta “Take Control of Corn Rootworm” decision guide, available from any Syngenta representative, can help growers build an effective management plan.