Non-GMO corn has its place
“Bt technology has been so effective for so long that we have eliminated the target pests in a lot of the growing regions. The European corn borer has been driven to such low populations that farmers are starting to wonder where did it go, and do I need to plant Bt corn every year. If the pest isn’t there, then the economic value isn’t there for Bt hybrids.”
The non-Bt option is possible in less prime areas for corn rootworm infestations, too. And the “entomological community” is thinking that going back to a 20 percent refuge of non-GMO corn is a logical move, Lundgren noted.
“In the areas where there is less corn in the rotation and there is no corn on corn, we are selling more conventional hybrids,” said Brad Taylor, vice president of Taylor Seed Farms at White Cloud, Kan. “In Kansas, there is a lot of area where the farmers rotate corn, soybean and wheat—not just corn and beans. The areas where conventional corn is being planted is where there isn’t rootworm, and there hasn’t been corn borer pressure for some time.”
A farmer can save around $50 per acre buying conventional seed compared to traited seed. If a farmer was going to use herbicides other than Roundup or a soil insecticide for secondary pests instead of solely relying on the Bt traits for insect control, then today a conventional hybrid has appeal.