The evolution of corn rootworm control and Force

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Corn insect control is a moving target, and sometimes the answers aren’t as simple as they might seem. In recent years, unpredictable weather, increased pest pressure and unexpected damage in rootworm-traited corn have confounded corn insect control strategies. Although corn rootworm management has evolved over time, one constant in the fight for over 25 years is Force insecticide.

“Corn rootworm has been a challenge for corn growers since the late 1950s,” said Chuck Foresman, Syngenta global corn crop protection R&D lead. “And since its introduction in the late 1980s, Force has provided farmers with control of corn rootworm and other pests, resulting in reduced lodging, faster and easier harvests, and higher yields.”

Looking Ahead

As farmers plan for the 2014 growing season, Syngenta recommends the following strategies for corn insect control in areas where corn rootworm is expected to be a problem: 

  • Taking a multi-year, whole-farm approach
  • Rotating to a non-host crop, where that is an option
  • Integrating multiple measures of control
  • Using corn hybrid stacks with two corn rootworm traits
  • Applying a soil insecticide or seed treatment 

“Corn rootworm control is not one-size-fits-all,” Foresman said. “Rotation to a non-host crop is the first option for farmers seeking to break the corn rootworm cycle. Effective corn rootworm management will require a multi-year plan, incorporating the integration of multiple control measures, not merely employing a single technology. Understanding the complexity of corn rootworm will help farmers choose the right approach for their farm.” 

Force Insecticide Team: The People Behind the Progress

Foresman has been part of a select group at Syngenta who have worked with Force insecticide since its inception. In the summer of 1980, he spent time digging up corn roots to test the efficacy of Force insecticide as a pre-registration compound. “It’s been a very robust compound, and after nearly three decades, Force remains an effective tool for corn insect control,” he said. “We’re very pleased it’s a product growers continue to rely on.”

Foresman and his colleagues have seen Force evolve from a new control option to a trusted resource, especially now through its use on rootworm-traited hybrids. When applied to hybrids that contain a single mode of action against corn rootworm, for example, Force can help increase corn yields by an average of 10 bushels per acre.

Dave Thomas, Syngenta senior R&D scientist, helped commercialize Force by providing in-house, contract and university technical support for the insecticide. “It was more user-friendly than the older products that were on the market,” Thomas said, adding that farmers also like the fact that Force controls secondary pests, such as cutworm, wireworm and white grub.

Today, Force comes in both liquid and granular formulations. Force 3G is a proven and reliable granular soil-applied insecticide that offers industry-leading control of the toughest corn pests. Force CS liquid soil-applied insecticide offers the same performance as Force 3G but with added convenience, a lower use rate and reduced product exposure.

Craig Nichols, Syngenta senior R&D scientist, also has been heavily involved in the development of Force over the past 20 years, from trial digs to data summary. He took part in developing Force 3G, testing Force on Bt traits and, most recently, testing Force CS. “As control challenges have emerged, farmers have found the need to attack corn rootworm with more than one mode of action,” Nichols said, noting that the application of Force on trait can help farmers control corn rootworms, especially in areas with heavy corn rootworm pressure.

As a leader in corn insect control, Syngenta is working to help farmers develop multi-year, whole-farm solutions for corn rootworm and other yield-robbing pests by taking current and historical insect pressures into account. Led by its “people behind the progress,” Syngenta is able to offer growers more tools to control corn rootworm than ever before, including Force, a product as useful for corn growers today as it was 25 years ago.

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