The new integrated refuge products eliminate the need for patchwork puzzle plantings. The latest single-bag refuge products to gain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval come from Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business.
Optimum AcreMax and Optimum AcreMax Xtra insect protection products differ in the amount of refuge product contained within the bag and their specific use. However, both products integrate all refuge needs into a single bag.
Optimum AcreMax targets pests such as corn borer, western bean cutworm and black cutworm. Bill Belzer, Pioneer senior marketing manager, U.S. corn, says the product is the first single-bag integrated product that addresses above-ground pests only. Optimum AcreMax integrates 95% of a hybrid containing Herculex I insect protection with YieldGard Corn Borer and herbicide tolerance protection with 5% of a similar non-Bt, glyphosate-tolerant hybrid.
Optimum AcreMax Xtra products will be marketed to growers who want integrated refuge and control of both aboveground (corn borer) and belowground (corn rootworm) insects. It integrates 90% of a hybrid containing Herculex Xtra (Herculex I and Herculex RW) and YieldGard Corn Borer with 10% of a similar non-Bt, glyphosate-tolerant hybrid.
Belzer says EPA took a conservative approach when approving the 10% refuge for the new Optimum AcreMax Xtra because the product has a single mode of action (Herculex RW) for belowground insect control. Pioneer studies show there is no yield penalty for a 10% integrated refuge compared with a 5% integrated refuge.
Inside the bag, growers will find a blend of two colors: red for the traited base hybrid and purple for the refuge hybrid. Pioneer will use its current seed treatment, Cruiser Extreme 250, on all seeds in Optimum AcreMax products.
In Optimum AcreMax Xtra products, all Bt seeds will be treated with Cruiser Extreme 250 and all non-Bt refuge seeds will have a high rate of Poncho 1250 insecticide seed treatment for added protection against rootworm feeding.
Pioneer is planning a full launch of the two products in 2012 across multiple hybrid platforms. Optimum AcreMax 1 and Optimum AcreMax RW will still be part of the Pioneer lineup in the Corn Belt. Corn growers in cotton country can select from several integrated corn rootworm options but must still plant corn borer refuges.