Production Blog

Worm Wrestling

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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The worms found at the Dow AgroSciences test farm are super-sized replicas, but the threat of damage from above-ground pests is real without protection. (Photo by Pamela Smith)

The summer calendar is filled with field days, and this week I attended Dow AgroSciences' Strongest in the Field media event. I'm highlighting a few of the agronomic take-away messages here. That sentence is carefully written because Dow and DuPont are currently in merger negotiations. At this point, both companies continue to operate as competitors.

Above-Ground Advantage

The giant worms hanging out in Dow AgroSciences' Diamond Showcase farm near Sheridan, Indiana, seem straight from a science fiction movie. While they are actually super-sized replicas, farmers know above-ground corn pests can cause real production nightmares.

In 2017, Dow will offer a pyramided trait package called PowerCore to help U.S. fields troubled by lepidopteron pests such as European corn borer, southwestern corn borer, corn earworm, western bean cutworm, black cutworm, sugarcane borer and fall armyworm. PowerCore is suited for acres where corn rootworm is not a concern.

Including multiple modes of action into hybrids -- in this case, the Cry1A.105, Cry2Ab2 and Cry1F proteins -- helps manage potential resistance issues and allows a reduced refuge. PowerCore will be a 5% refuge product in the Midwest and require a 20% structure refuge in cotton country.

An integrated 5% refuge-in-the-bag offering called PowerCore Refuge Advanced will also be available and will not require a separate refuge in Corn Belt states. However, a 20% refuge will still be required on RIB products in cotton areas.

Brian Barker, general manager, U.S. seeds at Dow AgroSciences, says PowerCore has been at work in Brazil and Argentina since 2012. "South American growers refer to the technology as 'plastic plants' -- that's how well it works for them," Barker says. PowerCore will be offered in all five of Dow's seed brands in 2017. The trait technology has the international approvals necessary for commercialization.

Hold Your Horses

It's not hard to see what weeds got away this year, and high on the list is horseweed or marestail. Dow is hoping to have a new herbicide called Elevore available in 2017 to handle those runaways.

The product is still pending registration, but Elevore is designed to control winter annuals such as marestail, chickweed, purple deadnettle and henbit through fall and spring burndown applications.

Jeff Ellis, Dow field scientist, explained that Elevore contains the active ingredient the company has been trademarked as Arylex. It's in the Group 4 growth regulator herbicide family and works systemically, which is a big plus when it comes to preventing regrowth.

"Symptoms on targeted plants are shown as typical auxin responses followed by necrosis and death," Ellis said. In field trials conducted by Dow AgroSciences, Elevore tank-mixed with 2,4-D delivered 97% control of glyphosate-resistant marestail when applied in a pre-plant burndown program.

"We targeted glyphosate-resistant marestail between 5 and 8 inches in field trials and have seen superior control of this weed species," Ellis says.

Once registered, it is anticipated that Elevore will be labeled for application with commonly used residual and burndown tank-mix partners, including glyphosate and 2,4-D, up to 14 days before planting soybeans in the Midwest.

Hit the Target

Commercialization of the corn and soybean Enlist Weed Control System continues in a holding pattern as the company waits for import approvals from China and the European Union. Enlist cotton is officially in the field this year; however, Enlist Duo is not yet labeled for use in cotton (it is labeled in corn and soy).

John Chase, Enlist commercial leader for Dow AgroSciences, said the company hopes to have all the approvals needed to commercialize the complete system in all three crops for 2017.

In the meantime, select growers are trialing the products in stewarded trials. The Enlist Duo label?defines how the product should be applied, and Chase said the requirements are not as onerous as some growers might think.

Growers who apply Enlist Duo can choose from 23 different nozzle options.

Nearly 50 tank-mix products are qualified for use with Enlist Duo. In addition, Enlist Duo herbicide requires a single-rinse with water when moving into glyphosate-tolerant corn and a triple-rinse with water for other crops.

A minimum 30-foot downwind buffer is required when spraying next to sensitive crops. However, because soybean is relatively tolerant of 2,4-D, it is not considered a sensitive crop. Examples of sensitive crops include vegetables, pastures, trees and lawns.

Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.smith@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

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