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New Crop Protection Products in the Pipeline

At field day near Redfield, Bayer demonstrates new technology to control crop diseases, insects and weeds.

Due to the fact that many ag chemical companies are no longer doing research and development to try to come up with new products, there are very few new herbicides, insecticides, and other crop protection products coming on the market these days. Some companies have even eliminated their budget for research and development. However, there are still a few firms seriously investing more money into research and development of crop protection chemicals.

One of these companies is Bayer CropScience. Bayer held a field day a few weeks ago at the firm's research center at Redfield in central Iowa, to give people a look at what's in their product development pipeline.

New products to improve crop yields

With corn and soybean prices being higher today, it is very important to have a good stand so you can get a top yield. "There are more no-till acres and farmers are planting at earlier dates now than they did five to 10 years ago," says Ray Knake, manager of Midwest product development for Bayer. "All these things make it harder to get a good stand of corn and soybeans. That's why more farmers are going to use fungicide and insecticide seed treatments in the future."

One upcoming product Bayer has is a fungicide seed treatment mixed with Allegiance for corn. Called Vortex, it isn't yet approved by EPA but is expected to be soon. Vortex seed treatment controls soilborne diseases such as pythium, fusarium and rhizoctonia. Vortex provides the broadest spectrum disease control and has both systemic and contact activity, says Knake. Vortex consistently outperforms Maxim XL. Vortex has a low use rate and is new chemistry.

Also in the product development pipeline are two new chemical seed treatments - one for corn and one for soybeans - that aim to control nematodes. Neither product has a name yet, just a number.

Where chemical nematode control may fit

The first product--identified in the plots at Redfield as EXP6 - is a chemical seed treatment for nematodes that should be registered for use on soybeans by the end of 2007. The second product is called GB126, a biological product that when combined with Gaucho insecticide on soybeans and Poncho on corn, has shown very good activity against various nematodes.

Many farmers now plant bean varieties that have resistance to soybean cyst nematode. There are indications some SCN-resistant soybean varieties are losing their resistance to SCN. Bayer researchers think the chemical seed treatment for SCN will work to fill that gap and provide nematode control.

Farmers are becoming increasingly interested in controlling nematodes in corn - not just in soybeans. "Nematodes as a yield-robbing pest in corn are nothing new," says Knake. "But with $3.50 to $4.00 corn prices, farmers are now paying attention to nematodes in corn. They want to harvest every potential bushel."

Bayer is relaunching Liberty herbicide

Bayer is relaunching Liberty herbicide for use on Liberty Link corn hybrids as an alternative to continuous use of glyphosate on fields. Liberty herbicide can be sprayed postemergence on corn hybrids that have the Liberty resistance trait. The company also plans to bring Liberty soybean varieties onto the market soon, to be grown by U.S. farmers. Bayer expects to get approval from European officials for export clearance of Liberty beans into Europe. Bayer hopes to get the European registration by the end of 2008. Liberty beans are already approved for export to Japan. Bayer is seeking approval from China, too, so U.S. farmers can export Liberty soybeans to that huge Asian market.

Bayer is working with a number of seed companies to ensure that bean varieties that have this trait will be widely available for planting by farmers. Liberty herbicide can be used as an alternative to continuous use of glyphosate. By rotating herbicides from one year to the next, you help keep weeds from developing resistance to glyphosate by avoiding continuous use of glyphosate.

Laudis to control both weeds and grasses

Laudis is Bayer's new postemergence corn herbicide to control broadleaf weeds and grasses. Laudis also has some residual activity and Bayer officials anticipate the product will get U.S. EPA approval in 2007 so that it can be sold to and used by farmers in 2008.

The preferred use of Laudis will be to apply it as a preemergence herbicide to the soil and then come back and spray Laudis postemergence, says Mike Weber, senior technical representative for Bayer. "Laudis provides excellent broadleaf weed control like Callisto does, but Laudis controls grasses, too," he adds.

Callisto is a competing herbicide made by another company. Bayer officials say Laudis will be competitively priced with Callisto. "Most of the time when using Laudis, farmers will want to mix a little atrazine with Laudis," says Weber.

- Sexton is the 2007 Wallaces Farmer intern and a student at Iowa State University.

TAGS: Soybean
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