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New corn rootworm traits will add to farmers’ arsenal for controlling underground pests

Corn farmers have experienced some cases of corn-rootworm resistance to new biotech traits, but the incidents have not been widespread or even uniform across fields. Monsanto’s Robb Fraley discussed the work the company is doing on providing new traits and other options to growers who experience rootworm outbreaks. He was interviewed at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill.

Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, said the resistance issues that appeared in some Midwest corn fields in 2012 were thoroughly investigated by the company. “It appeared that about 400 fields out of thousands and thousands of corn fields actually proved to have evidence of resistance in corn rootworms to the rootworm trait,” he said.

“Each of those fields was investigated by a Monsanto representative who made a recommendation about what that grower could do to avoid the problem next year.”

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The new corn rootworm 3 trait Monsanto is developing could be available by the end of the decade, according to Fraley. Meanwhile, Monsanto has been working with researchers around the world to provide additional options to corn producers whose fields are infested with rootworms.

“I had forgotten just how effective rotating to other crops can be when it comes to rootworms,” he said. “If you have corn in a field one year and rotate to soybeans the next, many times you won’t find any corn rootworms in the field the second year.”

For more on the interview, go to

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