On Aug. 16, at University of Illinois' Agronomy Day, entomology professor Mike Gray reported that he had confirmed resistance to Cry3Bb1 in two corn rootworm populations collected in northwestern Illinois in Henry and Whiteside counties in August 2011.
Gray's research on these two populations is important in understanding the nature of resistance and in finding practical integrated pest management solutions for growers. We share a common vision with Gray and the academic community: We all want to ensure that modern insect-protection tools, such as Bt traits, remain a viable tool for farmers for years to come.
While we do not have data to comment on Gray's research, this season we put in place a comprehensive program, including a series of aggressive best management practices (BMPs), to better assist farmers who reported unexpected damage to us in 2011. Grower adoption of our BMPs is in close alignment with Gray's recommendations - including rotating crops, rotating traits, and/or utilizing dual-mode-of-action products.
The data from our assessment of these BMPs overwhelmingly demonstrate that farmers can easily and practically manage these few, field-localized cases of increased tolerance through both proactive and reactive measures. For example:
Preliminary results clearly demonstrate that farmers will adopt the recommended BMPs and that the BMPs are providing very effective management of a field's corn rootworm population in the following season.
BMPs are effectively controlling the corn rootworm population, and there is no evidence that the population is spreading. We are seeing fewer performance inquiries this year compared to last year.
Overall, root damage scores consistently appear to be low - which means the scores are well below the level that could result in decreased yield or have a negative economic impact for growers.
SmartStax is performing very well in fields that had observed corn rootworm damage in 2011, which is consistent with scientific mathematical modeling that supports the durability and use of SmartStax in fields that have previously experienced greater-than-expected corn rootworm damage.
At the end of the season, we fully expect our portfolio of corn rootworm products will continue to demonstrate an outstanding level of performance, economic value and farmer satisfaction. We look forward to working collaboratively with academics and farmers to ensure that modern insect protection tools, such as Bt traits, remain a viable tool for farmers for years to come.