If there is one positive thing that comes from a challenging growing season like the one farmers have experienced in 2019, it’s the ability to get a look at what crop protection products produce the best results under tough field conditions.
In mid-August, representatives of the chemical company FMC gathered at the Kansas State University Rossville Experiment Station to check out how several different in-furrow and foliar fungicide trials fared during the very wet planting and growing season in a setting with intensive disease pressure.
“We definitely are happy with the results from our trials of the flutriafol formulation, especially the promise of combining that chemistry with a new, proprietary application system for corn that allows for an extremely low-volume application of product in-furrow at planting and provides a long residual disease protection for the crop as it grows,” said Gail Stratman, Heartland regional technical manager with FMC.
Stratman said FMC obtained the active ingredient flutriafol with the purchase of Cheminova in 2015.
“Cheminova was primarily a generic supplier but had several proprietary active ingredients that were very interesting and when our scientists began to explore the new possibilities with flutriafol, it became readily apparent that this molecule was really pretty amazing,” he said.
Flutriafol is one of the active ingredients in Lucento and Topguard EQ fungicides that are already labeled as strong foliar fungicides, but it is the new at-plant formulation that contains flutrifol that is creating excitement at FMC. That formulation is paired with the new 3RIVE (pronounced thrive) application system. That system uses a proprietary applicator that attaches to a planter and creates a foam in an ultra-low-volume system that can be applied in furrow with the seed.
“It is an extremely low-volume application,” Stratman said. “You use about 8 ounces of product with 32 ounces of water per acre. At that application rate, you can load enough to plant 480 acres without having to refill, which is pretty amazing and increases the grower’s efficiency.”
He said that farmers who commit to purchasing a minimum amount of product for three years get the application system from FMC without charge.
Stratman said the at-plant fungicide formulation is a highly systemic, long residual product that is taken up by the roots of the plant to provide systemic fungicide action.
“It’s much more efficient in the root system and transport in the xylem than in a foliar application. Most fungicides are not very phloem mobile, so they don’t readily move from the leaves down the plant then up to new tissues easily,” he said. “With the at-plant application, the product moves with the water up the vascular system to the new leaves. It is like vaccinating the plant to prevent disease rather than waiting for disease to appear and trying to treat for it.”
In the trial plots at Rossville, the systemic protection was readily visible.
The plots treated in-furrow were green and lush from bottom to top, while those treated with foliar products had considerable damage to the lower leaves.
The control plots were covered in a number of fungal diseases.
The flutriafol-based at-plant fungicide remains active in the plant foliage because of its long residual.
He said the idea to think about an at-plant corn application was developed after scientists at FMC saw how effective soil applications of another formulation, Topguard Terra, worked to control fungal diseases in cotton. Flutriafol is the active ingredient in Topguard, Topguard EQ and Lucento, all of which are used as foliar-applied fungicides.
Recognizing that some farmers would prefer to apply at-plant treatments along with liquid fertilizer, FMC is also working on a formulation with flutriafol that can be compatible with liquid fertilizer.
“We realize that not every farmer is in a situation where a 3RIVE system will fit,” he said. “So, we are working to offer product that will work with fertilizer applications as well,” Stratman said.
In the pipeline
Stratman said there are also products in the research and development phase, thanks in part to a robust pipeline of chemistry obtained by FMC after the Dow-Dupont merger required those companies to spin off some of their product lines.
VJR90 is a new fungicide that will combine three different modes of action in the 3, 7 and 11 groups that will be premixed for foliar application and looks very promising.
FMC has also been working on using Topguard fungicide that uses the flutriafol molecule for early and late season disease control in wheat.
“We have seen tremendous success in disease control and yield response in wheat when applying this two-pass disease management system. Topguard can be applied at wheat green-up to prevent wearly diseases like stripe rust from damaging vegetative development and can be followed at flag leaf with a second application of Topguard or Topguard EQ to get full-season control.
In addition to fungicides, FMC has some new herbicide molecules in the development pipeline that were obtained as a result of the Dow-DuPont spinoffs.
In this pipeline are several new chemistries and new modes of action that FMC hopes to bring to market sometime in the next decade.
“We are a ways out yet from having actual products for growers to use, but the early results rom field trials looks very promising,” Stratman said. “What has also been exciting for FMC is the addition of some of the more recent insecticide molecules to it’s portfolio.We now have several of their newer, broad spectrum insecticides for many different grain, forage and vegetable crops. Kansas farmers should recognize the Prevathon and Steward brands that complement FMC’s long history of pyrethoid insecticides.
“Having these different modes of action products in our line-up allows us to position the correct product for a grower’s need based on the situation. Steward is an example of an exciting product that provides outstanding control and long residual. In 2018, FMC received registration for Steward in corn to provide a new mode of action for foliar insect control to growers for residual control of adult corn rootworm. The performance and feedback on the product has been excellent.”