January 2009 Crop Tech

January 10, 2009 01:50 PM

Get into a New Mode

You just got more ammo in your war against corn pests. Syngenta reports the Environmental Protection Agency has granted registration approval for its new Agrisure corn trait, referred to as the MIR162 event. Named the Agrisure Viptera trait, it represents a 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 Agrisure Viptera trait uses a new proprietary technology called Vegetative Insecticidal Protein 3A (Vip3A). In Syngenta trials, the trait has been shown to provide enhanced control of a wide range of lepidopteran corn pests including corn earworm, western bean cutworm, black cutworm and fall armyworm.

Current insect control traits use Cry proteins, says Tracy Mader, marketing manager for Agrisure Corn Traits.

"Although Vip3A targets pests in a manner similar to the Cry class of protein, the two types of protein attack different sites in the pest's gut and have distinct modes of action."

Different modes of action for insect control can preserve trait technology by reducing the risk of resistance developing. A full launch of hybrids containing the Agrisure Viptera trait through Garst, Golden Harvest and NK seeds is set for 2010. The trait will be stacked with Agrisure GT/CB/LL or Agrisure 3000GT. Syngenta has also signed an agreement to share the technology with Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc.

Bring on the traits, says Pete Pistorius, Blue Mound, Ill. He hopes VT Triple's "Pro" version allows him to reduce refuge requirements.

Make It a Triple Plus

Keep your fingers crossed. Monsanto Company is headed to Texas this winter in an effort to increase its next-generation corn technology. If all goes well, farmers in the Corn Belt will have a better chance of previewing these new hybrids in limited commercial demonstrations in 2009.

The new line is called YieldGard VT Triple Pro. You may already be familiar with YieldGard VT, which combines second-generation rootworm control with YieldGard Corn Borer and Roundup Ready 2 Yield weed control.

The new "Pro" version differs in one significant way—it also contains insecticidal genes with two modes of action against aboveground corn insect pests. This dual-gene version is designed to provide broader spectrum control of corn earworm, European corn borer and fall armyworm.

The really big news is that the dual mode of action allows southern U.S. growers to reduce refuge acres from 50% to 20%, says Andrew Duff, Monsanto's corn traits marketing manager. "There's also a potential opportunity for a reduced corn borer refuge requirement in the northern Corn Belt in the future," he adds.

Cotton growers paved the way for refuge reduction when Monsanto incorporated two Bt genes into Bollgard II. Dow AgroSciences also has dual-gene cotton technology called WideStrike. Analytical techniques determined what bollworms and budworm larvae feed on before they became moths. The evidence convinced the Environmental Protection Agency that bollworm and budworm resistance was unlikely to develop in two-gene Bt cotton.

"Natural refuge from other crops or weed hosts produced enough non-selected moths to provide adequate refuge for resistance management," says Walt Mullins, Monsanto technology development manager.

Duff says VT Triple Pro will contain Cry1A.105 and Cry2Ab Bt proteins. "Triple Pro sets the stage for the multiple mode of action platform called SmartStax scheduled for introduction in 2010," he adds.

The stack meshes Monsanto's YieldGard VT Rootworm/RR2 and YieldGard VT Pro technologies with Dow AgroSciences' Herculex I and Herculex RW technologies and the two weed control systems.

You need all five fingers to count the beans in this pod. This five-bean pod was found in Mark Leigh's Illinois field of seed beans.
Give Me Five

Harvest was almost over for Mark Leigh when he heard Monsanto Company was on the hunt for five-bean soybean pods.

"I asked my nephew, Noah Webster, to search a strip we had yet to combine and it wasn't long before he was shouting that he'd found one," Leigh says. The Sparland, Ill., farmer says the pod was long and had four distinct swelled nodes with
another elongated swelling.

"When we opened it, there were five full-size beans in the pod," he says. The beefy pod was found in a field of Roundup Ready 2 Yield (RR2Y) soybeans being raised for seed. Leigh says the field was planted in 30" rows at a relatively low population (110,000 seeds per acre). The field received a foliar fungicide and insecticide application. Leigh said the field experienced some Japanese beetle feeding but had no aphid issues. His RR2Y beans yielded 67.5 bu. per acre across the entire farm.

RR2Y varieties will serve as the new platform for future soybean technology from Monsanto's Asgrow seed company, as well as other affiliated companies. The technology recently received regulatory approval in the European Union. Korea is one important market still waiting for approval.

In four years of testing, Monsanto says, RR2Y varieties have demonstrated a consistent yield advantage of 7% to 11%, compared with traditional Roundup Ready soybeans. Reports of four-bean pods have been common with growers and that prompted Jeff Wheeler, brand manager for Asgrow, to issue the five-bean challenge.

"It started out as kind of a gee-whiz thing, but suddenly reports of finds started coming in from several locations," Wheeler says. "Now I'm thinking we should start looking for six-bean pods."

Stress affects all facets of growth. The cob on the left was treated with Invinsa while the cob on the right came from an untreated plant. This corn was taken from grower fields in North Bend, Neb.
Spray-On Drought Relief

No need to stress. Corn, soybeans, cotton and cereals now have spray-on drought and stress relief.

That's the concept behind a new plant growth regulator called Invinsa technology being marketed by Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. The product will be launched in extensive demonstration programs in 2009 and will see full commercial launch in 2010.

When crops are under stress—as in periods of high temperature and mid-to-moderate drought—they produce excess levels of the plant hormone ethylene, says Bernd Druebbisch, brand manager for Syngenta. The plant responds to the ethylene signal by slowing or shutting down its normal growth processes and replacing them with efforts to avoid or isolate stress symptoms (corn ears don't fill with kernels; pods and bolls abort).

"Stress happens almost every day, but if there's a recovery period, the plant can adapt," Druebbisch explains. "Invinsa helps manage and minimize stress during temperature and drought peaks to help crops maintain their full yield potential."

To use the product, growers spray it on the crop during periods of local, moderate stress. Invinsa uses a unique mode of action called 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) that is structurally very similar to naturally occurring ethylene. It binds with plant receptors to block the "stress" signal from ethylene.

The product has already been proven in apples and flowers. In corn and soybeans, Druebbisch says, Invinsa should lead to less premature leaf senescence during hot, dry periods and protect plants' photosynthetic capability.

"It has a high potential for synergy with drought tolerance breeding programs too," he adds.


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