Crop Tech

February 20, 2009 01:38 PM

Conquer Corn Nematodes

Dagger, needle, lance, stunt and sting sound like nicknames for a bad-boy rock band. These early season nematode species, along with others called root-knot and stubby-root, can now be found in nearly every U.S. corn field.

Corn nematode populations are growing as farmers have switched from organophosphates and carbamates to pyrethroids and transgenic rootworm-resistant corn. More continuous corn and reduced tillage are also contributing factors. Invisible to the naked eye, the plant parasites inflict damage below the ground and sometimes rob yield with little or no aboveground symptoms.

Now this hidden enemy has an enemy of its own. Avicta brand seed treatment nematicide from Syngenta Seed Care was recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use on corn. Avicta (abamectin) was successfully launched in 2006 in cotton, where growers have a long history of battling nematodes.

Avicta represents the first on-the-seed protection in corn. Syngenta plans to market the nematicide with an enhanced rate of Cruiser seed treatment insecticide and a seed treatment fungicide package that includes Apron XL, Maxim XL and Dynasty. The trade name for the complete package has yet to be established.

"It will be the only seed-delivered technology that offers triple protection against nematodes, insects and diseases," says Mark Jirak, crop manager for Syngenta Seed Care.

Clearances came too late for Syngenta to launch Avicta for this growing season. You'll see it demonstrated in plots in cooperation with seed companies during the 2009 planting season. A full commercial launch is planned for 2010.

In 2007, Syngenta did a survey of corn nematode populations. Three random soil and root samples were pulled from each Midwestern Corn Belt county that grows 25,000 acres of corn or more. Corn-damaging nematodes were discovered in every county sampled.

Nematodes occur in every soil type, not just sandy soils, says Kurt Jones, technical crop manager, Syngenta Seed Care. The majority of corn nematode species are native to the U.S. and were present before corn was even cultivated domestically.

"Corn nematode damage is frequently misdiagnosed," Jones adds. "Symptoms [chlorosis, stunting, root damage and yield loss] often mimic other problems."

Get Flexible

You can extend the weed control window. A new selective herbicide, Balance Flexx, from Bayer CropScience gives you the advantage of a soil-applied product that can be applied from early preplant burndown through the two-leaf collar growth stage (V2).

The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the herbicide, which controls more than 50 grass and broadleaf weeds in corn. Balance Flexx combines the herbicide farmers know as Balance Pro (isoxaflutole) with a new exclusive technology called Crop Safety Innovation Safener (cyprosulfamide). This safener has soil and foliar uptake and changes the capacity of the corn plant to better withstand herbicidal activity.

The active ingredient in Balance Flexx also inhibits the 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPPD) enzyme in weeds. This enzyme is key to the production of pigments and
development of cholorplasts in plant tissues. Jeff Springsteen, Bayer product manager for selective corn and soybean herbicides, says treated weeds look bleached (white to pale yellow). In a short time, the bleached tissue dies at the edges and then succumbs completely.

Formulated as a suspension concentrate with 2 lb. of active ingredient per gallon, the product is like the Energizer Bunny of herbicides. A trait in the active ingredient reactivates the herbicide with 1⁄2" or more of rain. Bayer calls it "the power of Recharge." Weed roots take up another dose of the herbicide, killing late-emerging weeds up to 2" tall. Residual control lasts through canopy closure.

The new herbicide protects field corn from weeds that have shown resistance to ALS, glyphosate and tria-zine-based herbicides, such as common ragweed, marestail, Palmer amaranth and waterhemp. Atrazine is a preferred tank-mix partner, and adjuvants can enhance burndown of emerged weeds in no-till and reduced-till systems prior to crop emergence.

Balance Flexx will be available in limited supply in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

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