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Channel Your Inner Gladys Kravitz

Remember Gladys Kravitz from the 1960s television show Bewitched? She was the ultimate nosy neighbor who constantly spied on her neighbors.

You might want to borrow one of her annoying attributes and find out what corn relative maturities your neighbors are planting this spring.

“One famer who had rootworm trait failure wondered how in the world this could happen to him,” says Ken Ostlie, University of Minnesota Extension entomologist.  “He was a livestock producer raising silage for beef cattle, and was planting 113- to114-day relative maturity corn. His neighbors were all planting 102- to103-day corn.

“When the other corn in the neighborhood matured earlier and had silks dry up, guess whose field was producing lots of silk and pollen for the rootworm beetles? In areas where corn follows corn and farmers use the same trait over and over, it means the beetles attracted (to the field) also can be resistant. So, you need to be careful about planting dates and relative maturities, or you may be borrowing trouble from your neighbors.”

What's coming up

There’s good news on the corn rootworm trait front. Companies are developing traits with new mode of actions that will diversify control options. They include:

  • Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade features a new mode of action through the protein eCry3.1Ab. The protein binds differently to the gut of corn rootworm larvae than others. It will be stacked with the mCry3A protein now contained in Syngenta’s Agrisure RW trait. It’s slated to hit the market in 2014, pending regulatory approval.

  • Monsanto plans to launch a rootworm product containing two modes of action later this decade. “It will combine Bt technology with novel technology using RNA interference,” says Luke Samuel, Monsanto’s corn insect product development manager. “It is something completely different than what is now on the market.”

  • Bayer CropScience is developing a corn rootworm trait mode of action that’s completely novel compared to current control measures, says Brian Vande Berg, Bayer CropScience trait research manager for corn.

“We’re researching novel bacterial species other than Bt that are active against corn rootworm,” he says. Its market arrival date is slated for later this decade.

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