'Refuge In Bag' Corn Is Controlling Rootworms

'Refuge In Bag' Corn Is Controlling Rootworms

New Refuge-in-the-Bag technology offers simpler refuge management and effective insect protection. Grower who tried it this season reports excellent control of rootworm and corn other pests.

Farming near Garner in north central Iowa, Steve Prohaska had the opportunity to try Monsanto's new refuge-in-the-bag or RIB technology this season and says he's pleased with the simplicity and insect control it has provided.

Prohaska planted about 230 acres of Dekalb Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn blend, the industry's first single-bag solution for insect refuge management. The technology blends 95% Dekalb Genuity SmartStax Bt corn and 5% non-Bt refuge seed in a single bag that farmers can plant across their field, without the need for a separate, structured refuge.

"It is quite simple," Prohaska says. "We can just put the seed in the planter and go. It makes it very easy, because you don't have to handle the refuge corn."

This new technology eliminates the need to plant a separate refuge

Prohaska says the technology not only eliminates the "hassle" of planting a separate refuge, as well as the need to apply insecticide on a structured refuge that is no longer required. "No insecticide needs to be handled," he notes, "and that's something I do not miss. It's certainly a plus to not have to apply an insecticide."  

Farmers also benefit from the advanced above and below ground insect protection provided by the Genuity SmartStax corn trait, which Prohaska says has been a big benefit. He reports the technology has provided excellent control of rootworm pressure he has observed on his farm this season.

The Dekalb Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn blend had a limited introduction in the Corn Belt this season, and a full launch is planned for the 2012 growing season. Thus, it will be available in more corn hybrids.

Enables farmers to maximize their whole farm yield opportunity

By offering the lowest refuge (5%) in the corn growing area, RIB complete corn allows farmers to take advantage of the opportunity to maximize yield on all of their corn acres, and not have to settle for lower yields on refuge acres.

Thus, there are yield benefits associated with the reduced refuge requirement in addition to the convenience. With the RIB complete seed, you are only planting 5% of the acres to refuge, compared to the standard 20% refuge. "Last fall we had high winds," says Prohaska, "and my refuge acres went flat. My SmartStax corn did not. Obviously, the yield was much, much less on that refuge corn because it fell down real bad."

Genuity SmartStax corn features multiple modes of protection against corn rootworm and other below-ground and above-ground insect pests, as well as having two herbicide tolerance traits. Having more than one mode of action guards against the problems you can run into with insects and weeds developing resistance, which can happen because of evolving populations of insects and weeds. That's important to Prohaska, who has moved to planting continuous corn across his entire farm over the past decade.

Will plant more RIB corn hybrids in future, as they become available

"What we do see with corn-on-corn is a lot more bugs," he says. "And insecticides don't really do the job like the corn traits do in providing protection against insects. Insecticides are only going to be effective for a certain period of time in the soil. The traits in the corn hybrid, however, provide protection season-long. So SmartStax lessens my risk. I know that I'll have less insect damage to the corn plants. That is proven. I've seen it."

DeKalb Genuity SmartStax RIB Complete corn is only available in a handful of hybrids this year. Prohaska planted only one RIB Complete hybrid and put it in the fields best suited for the agronomics of the particular hybrid he's using. "This is a hybrid I planted last year and really liked, so I'm glad they made it available as a RIB Complete hybrid this year. We're just planting this one RIB corn hybrid this year, but I anticipate planting more RIB corn as this technology becomes available in more hybrids next year and beyond."

For more information, farmers can contact their DeKalb seed dealer or visit www.dekalb.com.

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