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Crops department

Cruising for insects

Corn growers now have another seed treatment option when placing seed orders this winter. Syngenta recently received registration for its new Cruiser seed treatment insecticide for use on corn. It is also registered for use on sorghum, barley, wheat and cotton.

Cruiser provides control on corn for a number of seed, soil and foliar insects, including wireworm, seed corn maggot, white grub, flea beetle, southern corn leaf beetle, corn rootworm, billbug and chinch bug. It belongs to a new subclass of active ingredients called neonicotinoids. Thiamethoxam, the active ingredient (a.i.) in Cruiser, works systemically through the plant. When the insects absorb Cruiser through contact or feeding, they stop feeding and the plant is protected.

Cruiser requires little soil moisture to activate. It moves off the seed coat and binds to soil particles surrounding the seed until absorbed into the plant's root system.

The product will be commercially applied so growers will not be exposed to insecticides at planting. Commercial application also reduces labor and handling for a grower. It is applied at a low rate: 0.128 mg a.i./seed. Syngenta claims this low seed-loading rate reduces stress on the new plant and helps it emerge fast and uniformly.

Cruiser is compatible with Maxim XL fungicide and other commonly used corn herbicides. It is not a restricted use pesticide, and Syngenta reports it is a replacement for organophosphates and carbamates. Contact your local Syngenta representative, visit or, or circle 199. - Karen McMahon

Seed accreditation

Pioneer Hi-Bred International recently received accreditation to conduct its own plant health inspections and tests, previously reserved for only government officials. Pioneer is the first major agricultural seed producer in the U.S. to receive this accreditation, given under the National Seed Health System. Pioneer's inspections and tests will be in compliance with international phytosanitary regulations. Conducting the tests will allow the company to speed the development of products and shipment of seed.

Pioneer soybean trials

Check out the results of Pioneer Hi-Bred International's soybean trials by visiting the company's Web site: Pioneer publishes the results of its on-farm field trials from last fall on the site. The company expects that its 93B09 variety that is resistant to Roundup will be a big seller in 2003. It claims that the variety includes some Phytophthora resistance and very good tolerance to brown stem rot. Other top varieties to consider, according to Pioneer, are 93B68, 94B13, 94B74 and 94B14. The company is introducing 50 new soybean varieties for 2003.

Label extension

Winter wheat growers now have another tool to fight grasses. Discover herbicide from Syngenta Crop Protection is now labeled for use on winter wheat. The product already is approved for use in spring wheat and durum. Growers may use one application of Discover in the spring to control annual grasses in winter wheat. The product may be applied from the two-leaf through pre-boot stages. Clodinafop is the active ingredient in Discover, which tank mixes with Tilt fungicide.

Crop production readings

The AG900 Hand Held pH & Soil (EC) General Nutrient Meter from Milwaukee Instruments will help you time water, fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide applications for maximum crop benefits. The Ag900 kit provides instant readings of soil and well water pH and conductivity.

The kit includes a hand-held microprocessor and calibration solution. It lists for $245. The meter comes with a two-year warranty. Contact Milwaukee Instruments, Dept. FIN, 103 Commonwealth Ave., Attleboro Falls, MA 02763, 877/283-7837, visit or, or circle 187.

Herbicide Option

This past September we attended a field day at the Curtiss research farm near Ames, IA, to learn about Bayer Crop Science's new Option herbicide, a broad-spectrum sulfonyl-urea post-applied grass herbicide for corn. It controls most grasses as well as some broadleaf weeds, including velvetleaf, redroot pigweed and nightshade.

Although Option provides residual weed control, Bayer says you can still rotate crops without carryover concerns. Option can be used in a variety of tankmixes in a two-pass or total-post program.

Roundup resistance

Iowa State University agronomist Mike Owen, guest speaker at the Bayer event, said the rapid adoption of herbicide-resistant hybrids has led to “a troubling trend where farmers wait until weeds are big before they come over the top with a postemergence treatment of a nonselective, nonresidual herbicide.” Waiting for weeds to get big can significantly reduce yield, he explained.

Far from damning Roundup Ready technology, Owen warned about glyphosate resistance in weeds. “Farmers should preserve Roundup Ready technology by not overusing it,” he said. It seems a noble cause, even though Monsanto maintains that glyphosate-resistant weeds are not likely to become a significant problem anytime soon.

Program variety

In plots at the Curtiss field day, Bayer demonstrated 14 different treatment options, including four programs that included Roundup UltraMax as a preplant or preemergence burn-down treatment. Programs included Option, Roundup, Balance Pro, Atrazine, Define, Bicep II, Harness Xtra and Liberty.

Except for a marked difference in full-rate versus partial-rate programs, and a decisive advantage for anything that included atrazine, it was difficult to tell which program was best in reducing weed pressure. Not surprisingly, two-pass, pre/post treatments had fewer weeds evident in September than the exclusively preemerge plots.

Owen pointed out that looks are deceiving anyway. “Weeds that grow later in the season do not have nearly as much impact on yield as early-season weeds,” he said. “Too many farmers are focused on killing weeds when they should be focused on preserving yield.” - Wayne Wenzel

Iowa crop performance

It isn't news to corn producers that new corn hybrids are hitting the market with dizzying speed these days. It can be challenging trying to evaluate new hybrids just as quickly, without the benefit of years of performance data.

The Iowa Crop Improvement Association, headquartered in Iowa State University's Department of Agronomy, is working to help corn growers make better-informed seed-purchasing decisions based on more extensive performance results.

The Iowa Crop Performance Test Web site features 16 tables illustrating corn hybrid performance data gathered from seven reporting districts in Iowa. The site provides unbiased, third-party information for Iowa corn growers about commercial seed. Data are even available from crops grown on sites that have been in no-till production for at least 10 years.

There is no charge for the information found at the Web site: The tables can be found under the heading “Iowa Crop Performance Tests.” Contact Ken Ziegler, Agronomy Dept., Iowa State University, 515/294-7827.

The Web site also lists performance data for winter and spring small grains grown in Iowa. It published an analysis of 13 hard red winter, six soft red winter and two hard white winter wheat varieties, plus four experimental lines. A winter triticale study tested 11 named varieties and 25 experimental lines. A spring test included barley and oats. The Iowa Crop Improvement Association coordinates the small grain performance tests. Contact Jean-Luc Jannink, Agronomy Dept., Iowa State University, 515/294-4153.

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