Brand New Trait

December 16, 2008 06:00 PM

Pam Smith, Farm Journal Crops & Issues Editor
Corn earworms are despicable critters. The good news is preliminary data shows they won't like the taste of the newest lepidopteran corn pest control trait.
It's called Agrisure Viptera.
Syngenta recently received Environmental Protection Agency approval for the trait, which features an all-new mode of action for insect control in corn. Pending all remaining regulatory and key import approvals, hybrids containing the new trait are anticipated to be available for the 2010 planting season. You'll likely see demonstration plots in 2009.
The MIR162 event uses a new proprietary technology called Vegetative Insecticidal Protein 3A (Vip3A). Current corn insect control traits use Cry proteins. Vip3A targets pests in a manner similar to the Cry class of protein, but the two types of protein attack different sites in the pest's gut and have distinct modes of action.
Agronomy Marketing Manager Bruce Battles says replicated trials in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas and North Carolina point to an average yield advantage of 10.2 bushel per acre for Agrisure CB/LL/RW hybrids stacked with the Agrisure Viptera trait compared to isolines containing only the Agrisure CB/LL/RW stack.
All Syngenta strip trial comparisons are completed with hybrids of similar relative maturities and adjusted for moisture (to +/- 3 points) and are equivalent trait classes. Isolines used for comparisons feature identical genetics to the test hybrids, but do not contain the Agrisure Viptera trait. Replicated trials consisted of six locations with six replications per trial site.
Battles says the trials focused on evaluating the effect of the Agrisure Viptera trait in environments with normal corn earworm pressure. "There was a clear correlation between the level of ear damage and yield increases in the Agrisure CB/LL/RW check versus the Agrisure Viptera stack,” says Battles.
"We saw the biggest yield advantages in plots that had higher levels of corn earworm pressure. While the average yield advantage for all plots weighed in at 10.2 bushels per acre, the yield advantage in plots with corn earworm infestation rose to 16.3 bushels per acre.”
Battles says the trials highlight the challenges of dealing with lepidopteran pests beyond European corn borer. Syngenta calls this spectrum of insects the "multi-pest complex.”
"We located trials in a variety of geographies to pick up a variety of infestations,” says Battles. "Ad we faced the same situation as our growers face—not all plots had infestations of the same pests, and we could not predict the insect infestations we did experience.
"That's exactly the nature of the multi-pest complex,” Battles added. "These pests don't occur in every field ever year, but they do occur frequently. If growers are seeking to maximize yields, they need to account for the random and unpredictable nature of these infestations and plan for broad-spectrum insect protection at all crop stages.”
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