Key Issues Perspective

Key Issues Perspective: Healthy root systems needed early

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Increasing corn and soybean yield is a challenge growers face every year. But with the help of agronomists and agricultural research, the industry has developed multiple tools for growers to use that can help squeeze more yield out of each crop’s potential.

“There are many options farmers can utilize to increase yield including nutrient management, weed management, adjusting planting dates, fungicides, foliar products and seed treatments,” said Mark Hinz, crop consultant for Crop Production Services, in Hancock, Iowa.

In Hinz’s area, seed treatments are critical for early seed protection. CPS provides a mix-and-match approach to seed treatments and offers customized blends for its customers.

Even after a challenging agronomic year like 2012, seed treatments provide a wealth of yield enhancements, Hinz said. Regardless of the previous year’s weather, seeds always need protection.

With such a strong need for early protection, Hinz stressed the need to prevent resistance from developing below ground.

“Although no resistance has been discovered, the potential is there,” Hinz said. “Many people don’t think that you can have resistance below ground, but it could catch up with us if we are not proactive now.”

Eric Ifft, technical sales consultant, Bayer CropSciences, agreed with Hinz about the importance of seed treatments to help plants get off to an early start and the need for preventing resistance.

“Farmers will not see the high yields that today’s corn and soybean genetics can provide if they don’t start the year with an optimal stand of healthy seedlings with healthy roots,” Ifft said. “There is not a better product on the market for protecting the root system from secondary pests and nematodes than Poncho/VOTiVO.”

One of the pest challenges Hinz faces on soybeans is cyst nematodes. Ifft said there is concern that cysts will develop resistance to PI88788, one of three main genetic sources for SCN resistance genes. The other two are Peking and PI437654.

Ifft said Bayer CropScience’s Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment provides the double protection newly emerging roots need. It keeps harmful nematodes from attacking the roots, while also protecting roots from secondary pests.

One pest concern that Hinz sees an increase in within his area is cyst nematodes.

“The crop protection industry has not focused products recently on cysts. It does not seem to be at the forefront of research right now, but it is beginning to challenge yields more,” Hinz said.

Fortunately, Poncho/VOTiVO has activity against cysts, Ifft said. “The biological component in Poncho/VOTiVO is a good tool for managing cyst nematodes and is helpful in preventing resistance because it creates a living barrier around the seed. When a plant has the Poncho/VOTiVO seed treatment, it doesn’t have to expend its energy fighting off cysts. It is protected by the seed treatment and can use its energy to grow,” Ifft said.

Both Hinz and Ifft agree that managing pests below ground can be challenging for many farmers.

“For most people, managing underground pests is a bit of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Most don’t think about the pests doing damage on the roots below ground,” Ifft said.

He likened the plants’ root system to an iceberg. The part of the iceberg below the water is of major concern to the boat captain, as the root systems should be of major concern to the grower.

“In the end, you cannot have high yields without a healthy root system,” Ifft said.


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