Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Although the great majority of producers are to be credited for their stewardship of this technology, many thousands of acres that should have been devoted to a refuge were not. The escalating use of Bt hybrids, even on those acres with very low pest densities, along with the lack of refuge compliance on some farms will heighten the selection pressure for resistance development by European corn borers and/or corn rootworms. Also, it is important to remember that each kernel of Bt seed is treated with a neonicotinoid (clothianidin and/or thiamethoxam) insecticidal seed treatment. By planting Bt seed, producers are placing selection pressure on many secondary insect populations (seed corn maggots, white grubs, wireworms) that may also develop resistance to this important class of insecticides.
The following seed technologies were approved by the FCIC board for Illinois: YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2, YieldGard VT Triple, YieldGard VT Triple PRO, Herculex Xtra, Herculex Xtra RR2, Agrisure CB RW (stacked), and Agrisure 3000GT hybrids. Producers are encouraged to go to the website for additional details concerning eligibility requirements. According to the guidelines, "insured producers will be required to purchase a buy-up level of coverage and plant at least 75 percent of their insured corn acres in a unit to a qualifying corn hybrid."
When we asked producers at the 2009 Classics whether a similar USDA crop insurance program influenced their decision to plant a Bt hybrid in 2008, a majority (an average of 82% of producers across the six locations) said no. The number of respondents in Mt. Vernon was 86; Champaign, 123; Bloomington, 120; Springfield, 157; Moline, 92; and Malta, 91.
We look forward to the upcoming growing season and encourage producers to implement refuges according to prescribed guidelines. Producers who detect unusual levels of insect damage (root injury or stalk tunneling) to Bt hybrids this season should be sure to contact their appropriate seed company representative and/or university entomologist.