DuPont Pioneer is introducing a new class of hybrids featuring a powerful pyramid of insect protection traits. Introduced to help control the lepidopteran order of insects, Optimum Leptra hybrids combine three traits to provide multiple modes of action and protection from a broad spectrum of above-ground corn pests.

The Optimum Leptra pyramid of protection combines the proven Herculex I, YieldGard Corn Borer and Agrisure Viptera traits with locally developed and tested Pioneer brand corn hybrids.

Pioneer is introducing six new Optimum Leptra products in limited volumes for the 2014 planting season. These products are targeted for southern U.S. growing environments with a maturity range from 113 to 118 CRM.

"Optimum Leptra hybrids offer three modes of action for excellent efficacy against southwestern corn borer and corn earworm, the two pests of highest concern for many growers in the southern U.S.," says Ryan French, DuPont Pioneer senior marketing manager-technology launch.

The Optimum Leptra pyramid of insect protection helps control an extensive array of above-ground corn pests, including European corn borer, southwestern corn borer, corn earworm, fall armyworm, black cutworm and western bean cutworm to help protect plant health, yield and grain quality.

Research trials conducted in the southern U.S. by Pioneer and independent universities demonstrated the superior pest protection provided by Optimum Leptra hybrids.

"In field trials, we've seen Optimum Leptra hybrids exhibit a 98 percent reduction in corn ear feeding damage across many pest pressure situations compared to non-Bt hybrids," French says.

Providing growers a wider window for spring planting is an additional benefit of Optimum Leptra hybrids. In late-planted corn, early reproductive stages may coincide with higher populations of corn earworm when there is a higher risk of damage.

"The protection from corn earworm in Optimum Leptra hybrids gives growers more flexibility at planting time in fields that may experience elevated pest pressure," French says. "Another advantage of multiple modes of action is the lowest required refuge in the U.S. cotton zone and greater durability to help preserve these insect-protection traits for continued use."

The multiple modes of action in Optimum Leptra hybrids allow for a 20 percent structured refuge in EPA-designated cotton counties, compared to a 50 percent refuge structure for corn hybrids with a single Bt trait. Optimum Leptra hybrids also offer flexible weed control options with tolerance to both glyphosate and glufosinate herbicides.

For more information, go to www.pioneer.com/Leptra.