Although flooding in the Midwest reduced population numbers in 2015, extensive testing and farmer surveys reveal that maize rootworm is rising.
Based on internal corporate survey data, we’ve begun to see some population growth, particularly in some geographies during the previous two years.
Population growth could be attributed to a lack of significant weather events and increasing number of farmers committing to corn-on-corn acres.
As the economy has changed, there has been a greater need for corn on corn. As a result, we are seeing an increase in the number of growers committing to at least two to three years of corn production before switching back to soybeans. As you do this, populations begin to grow.
Relying on seemingly simple remedies may also contribute to the pest’s rise.
It’s human nature to want a quick fix. It’s similar to what we’ve seen in other agriculture sectors, such as weed control. When a new tool is discovered and widely adopted, resistant weeds emerge. We see similar problems in some regions owing to a high reliance on a single technique, such as pyramided qualities, which are numerous traits layered on each other. That eventually comes up with you, and we’re seeing the results of some of those years of simplicity.
Continuous data collection in fields is a farmer’s best defense against corn rootworms.
Knowing and understanding the problem at hand is critical regarding core rootworm pressure. Then there are numerous alternatives or techniques to consider.
Farmers should rigorously plan for rootworm pressure before the growing season begins, as no rescue treatments are available.
Rootworm eggs laid in the summer and fall usually do not hatch until the following year. Unfortunately, because the eggs are underground, there are few cost-effective ways to control the insects once they emerge. That is why, in terms of protection, you should consider how to defend against rootworms before planting the seed.
Farmers can use data from prior planting seasons to evaluate their risk of rootworm damage.
Consider the current year and base your selections on it. Then, I strongly recommend everyone make a plan for 2023. Then, learn as much as you can this year to construct that 2023 strategy since being in the field is the most excellent way to learn.
Routine root digging can help farmers assess the amount of damage they face.
That is the first way to tell if there is pressure there. If there is pressure, those roots would be graded on the Iowa State scale. On a scale of 0 to 3, 0 represents no harm, whereas 3 represents severe damage. This is a method of calculating the possible yield harm.
Farmers may also use sticky traps in their crops to better understand population pressure and make better management decisions.
Traps are a great indicator of which crops may be more vulnerable in 2023. Fields at risk could benefit from a beetle spraying program, which can reduce eggs and necessitates timely application.
Rotating with soybeans whenever possible is one of the most efficient ways to manage corn rootworms.
Because soybeans are a nonhost crop, rootworms cannot survive on them. Because insects rely on corn roots to stay, when you switch to soybeans, the beetles lose their ability to spawn the following year. That is why corn rotation is so effective.
Although certain rotation-resistant corn rootworms have been discovered, the risk of corn-on-corn production remains significantly higher.
When you locate corn on corn, you need to think about the qualities you’re utilizing for your farm program because you want to ensure you’re controlling those core rootworms effectively.
Working with local agronomists and other specialists, as well as using pyramided products, can assist farmers in developing a plan.
Bayer has launched SmartStax PRO with RNAi technology, providing farmers with a new tool to combat maize rootworm pressure.
This post has a significant probability of adapting to any technology we devise. As a result, we’re continually looking for innovative strategies to control this pest and stay one step ahead of it.
Unlike previous solutions, which concentrated on various BT proteins, RNAi technology can pinpoint specific proteins corn rootworms require to live.
We have limited volumes in 2022 that we are currently discussing with farmers, and we aim to extend that in 2023 significantly. Last year, in particular, we discovered that it would be the most influential biotech defense against maize rootworm compared to all other competitors in the market.
SmartStax PRO with RNAi technology, with three modes of action in one product, provides a chance to extend the life of existing management solutions. It’s a fantastic development, but Battles advise farmers to use caution.
If we approach it with the mindset that RNAi is the only thing that will eliminate rootworms, and it becomes our sole management strategy, resistance will be inevitable. But, unfortunately, it’s just a matter of time before that new technology becomes obsolete. Many promising technologies are in the works, but I caution people not to view them as a distinctly new approach to issue-solving. It does not, however, eliminate the requirement for a multifaceted management strategy.
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