Soybean cyst nematodes have caused yield losses on soybeans in Indiana for decades. There are resistant varieties, but how long the resistance will hold strong is anybody's guess. Recently there's been more attention paid to how much damage a different nematode might be doing to corn early in the season.
Well, good news is on the horizon. Debuted at the Farm Progress Show last fall and in the November 2009 issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer Bayer is making excellent progress with a seed treatment that will play a large role in minimizing nematode problems. The product name will be Votivo, and it will come as a seed treatment already on the seed, likely with Poncho 500, a soil insecticide also coated on the seed. Until recently, Poncho came either as Poncho 250 to help with secondary pests, or Poncho 1250, geared at rootworms.
The big question is ehy will it come out on corn first instead of soybeans, when soybeans have been more of a traditional target for nematodes, the cyst nematode primarily, at least in Indiana. "That's just what the company decided to do," noted a Bayer spokesperson at the recent Select Seed Field Day in Camden, Indiana. "For the way they developed the product and since it is with Poncho 500, it just made more sense to bring it out on corn first. Farmers are more used to having seed corn treated."
At this point, that should happen next year. Hybrids will be available from Select Seed and other companies that are coated with Votivo. Then in 2012, the product is expected to be launched on soybeans.
Apparently the product doesn't actually kill the nematode. It's not like a GMO where the target pest takes a bite and dies. Instead, the treatment helps form a protective barrier around the roots. This will be true both in corn and in soybeans.
"You won't find lower nematode counts in the field after using Votivo," the spokesperson acknowledged. "It won't increase yield in absence of nematodes either. It's job is to protect the yield potential that is there from nematodes which could interfere by damaging the roots."
He still advises picking resistant varieties, particularly when the product becomes available for soybeans in 2012. Coupled with resistance, this new product should go a long way toward returning marginal soybean acres in some counties, particularly in sandy areas, to good soybean producing areas.