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Weed stopper

Syngenta Crop Protection's launch of Callisto broadleaf corn herbicide last season was the company's most successful product launch ever, garnering four million acres across the Midwest. Now the company is seeking to get more mileage out of the unique mesotrione chemistry by including it in a formulation with atrazine and S-metolachlor. The potent combination, dubbed Lumax herbicide, is designed for preemergence application on corn. Syngenta claims one application provides season-long control of all major broadleaf and grass weeds.

Test plots

The company supported its “season-long” claim this past August by letting us inspect some fields sprayed with Lumax near the University of Wisconsin's Arlington research farms. While the untreated plots were choked with foxtails and giant ragweed, the Lumax plots were relatively clean, exceptionally good for only one herbicide treatment. There were very few escapes.

Despite heavy rains shortly after the crop emerged, Lumax stayed put and did its job on the heavy Arlington Prairie soils. The herbicide has an excellent crop safety profile, and the corn looked tall and healthy. Though we did observe crazy top on a few hybrids that apparently had been submerged by rain shortly after emergence, across the plots it looked as if yields would be very good for both grain and silage hybrids.

At Arlington, the recommended rate of 3 qts./acre provided the best results, and lower rates had correspondingly more escapes. Lighter soils might have achieved equitable results with a lower 2½-qt. rate, which the company recommends when soil organic matter is less than 3%.

Limitations of Lumax are essentially the same as those of the three herbicide chemistries that make it up. It can be applied from 10 days before planting to emerged corn up to 5 in. tall. But weeds should not be emerged. To avoid crop injury or tankmix antagonism, Lumax should not be used where Counter or Lorsban were used, and it should not be tank mixed with an organophosphate insecticide.

Atrazine options

You can replant corn immediately where Lumax was applied, but in Wisconsin, any fields planted after June 10 can be rotated only to corn because of the atrazine. Areas that prohibit or restrict atrazine may not use Lumax, but Syngenta hopes to reach those markets with an atrazine-free formula called Camex. The Camex plots we saw looked relatively clean as well, but the ragweed control was not as good as with Lumax.

Syngenta plans to roll out Lumax and Camex most aggressively in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. Syngenta spokesperson David Elser says the company hopes to capture 400,000 to 500,000 acres with the new product in Wisconsin alone. Many of those may come at the expense of Bicep and Dual.

“Lumax has great appeal to crop protection retailers because it will come in bulk packaging and is well suited to custom application with large floater equipment,” Elser says. “It will appeal to growers because of its timesaving potential and competitive price.”

Elser will not give a specific price per acre for Lumax but says the price will be “extremely competitive compared to a typical full-campaign program at $30 to $35 an acre.”

Glyphosate alternative

In its continuing battle against Monsanto, Syngenta is positioning Lumax as a herbicide resistance control tool. “If you use Roundup on soybeans and corn year after year, it's not a question of if but a question of when you'll run into a resistance problem,” Elser says. “We strongly discourage using glyphosate on the same field two years in a row.” Elser points to waterhemp as one problem weed that is already confounding fans of an all-glyphosate weed control program.

Syngenta continues to promote its own glyphosate herbicide, Touchdown IQ, for use on Roundup Ready soybeans.

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