A new corn insect refuge option comes to the field for your inspection in 2010 and this time, it is integrated in the bag. Optimum AcreMax 1 insect protection for Pioneer brand corn hybrids was granted registration by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 30. It is the first in-the-bag solution for meeting corn rootworm refuge compliance.
Here's how it works: Optimum AcreMax 1 products contain 90% of a Pioneer hybrid with the Herculex XTRA traits, which deliver both above- and belowground biotech insect protection. These hybrids are mixed with 10% of a hybrid from the same genetic family containing the Herculex I trait for aboveground insect protection to meet the corn rootworm refuge requirements. All of the seed in the bag is herbicide-tolerant.
What growers need to grasp about this first-generation refuge-in-a-bag technology is that a corn borer refuge is still required. The good news is the EPA also granted Pioneer registration for Optimum AcreMax RW products, which can be planted to satisfy the corn borer refuge requirements. Optimum AcreMax RW products integrate 90% Herculex RW seed and 10% of a hybrid from the same genetic family without biotech insect protection. "These products are designed to meet the corn borer refuge requirement and delivery protection against corn rootworm,” says Jerry Harrington, Pioneer sales and marketing public relations manager. "Growers have the option of planting them within the field or up to one-half mile away.”
Harrington notes the combination allows growers in high corn rootworm pressure areas to protect 100% of their corn acres with this integrated rootworm technology. All Herculex XTRA protected seed will also be treated with Cruiser Extreme 250. All refuge seeds will have a high rate of Poncho 1250 seed treatment for additional protection against corn rootworm.
Earlier reports anticipated Optimum AcreMax 1 would be integrated with a 5% refuge, instead of the 10% approved by EPA. Harrington says multiyear research trials indicate the 10% refuge concept delivers the same yield and performance as fields planted with 100% Herculex XTRA.
"While we do consider 10% to be a conservative decision by the EPA, we also commend this move to grant this historic registration that not only integrates refuge, but reduces it by half,” Harrington says. Two out of three growers polled by Pioneer prefer the in-the-bag refuge versus reduction of refuge alone.
"For 2010, we've placed Optimum AcreMax 1 and Optimum AcreMax RW hybrids with key growers on over 30,000 acres,” Harrington says. "You'll also see them in hundreds of seed plots scattered across the country.” Pioneer plans to sell the product in 2011.
The next-generation Optimum AcreMax 2 family of products will further simplify insect refuge deployment through a refuge-in-the-bag solution for both corn rootworm and corn borer. Those products are anticipated by 2012, depending on regulatory approval and field testing.
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