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Latest refuge product fits the North

A regulatory seed corn change was approved by the U.S. EPA in late November, and I predict it will make a huge difference in how farmers in the Northern Plains will handle their corn refuges.

EPA approved refuge-in-a-bag for the Genuity VT Double Pro (VT2Pro) trait. The VT2Pro trait combines two modes of action for aboveground insect protection — the very insects that growers in our part of the world need insurance against. The main pest in our area is European corn borer, but the trait also has excellent control of corn earworm and fall armyworm.

With the initial release of VT2Pro, the EPA reduced the refuge requirement from the 20% block design used since the mid-1990s to a 5% block design. And with this recent approval, Genuity VT2Pro now joins SmartStax hybrids in receiving refuge-in-a-bag approval, allowing for that 5% refuge component to be blended directly into the seed bag or box. No more ordering separate seed products for your refuge! No more planting separate blocks for your refuge! That is the exciting opportunity I was talking about. Refuge made easy!

Some of the refuge-in-a-bag products currently on the market do have the below-ground (corn rootworm) portion of the refuge blended into the seed. However, a separate refuge is required to protect against aboveground pests. This can be a bit confusing, so be sure to check with your seed dealer to make sure you understand exactly what trait you are planting and its corresponding refuge requirements.

Insect resistance management has become a hot topic lately with the advent of some corn rootworm-resistant acres. This resistance problem occurred when a traited product was planted repeatedly without a refuge, allowing the insects to develop resistance to the trait. Having the refuge right there in the seed bag makes the crop fully compliant to IRM guidelines, minimizing the chance for resistance.

Although I’m talking a lot about traits, don’t get me wrong. Farmers should be selecting corn seed based on the genetics that fit their particular conditions and then protecting those genetics with the necessary traits. It is similar to buying a home. First choose the house the best fits your needs and then protect that house with insurance against fire and theft.

I know that sometimes trait selections are limited for a hybrid. But traits are only meant to preserve yield — so protecting a hybrid with low yield potential just to get the newest trait does not make sense to me. Our replicated research has verified that there is no negative effect on a hybrid’s yield with the addition of the VT2Pro trait as compared to its previous trait package (VT3 or RR).

You can see why farmers can get excited about the approval of this single-bag solution! You can expect to see more traits receiving refuge-in-a-bag approval in the next few years.

Spelhaug is an agronomist with Peterson Farms Seed, Harwood, N.D. For more information, contact him at 866-481-7333 or adam@peterson
farmsseed.com,
or visit petersonfarmsseed.com.

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This article published in the January, 2012 edition of DAKOTA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.