Yield loss from nematodes is off most farmers' radar. It was only in the past couple years that university and Extension specialists began stressing nematode injury to corn. Additionally, soybean companies introduced cyst nematode-resistant varieties several years ago, which gave farmers confidence that they were adequately controlling cyst nematode damage.
Recent investigative works show that both nematodes specific to attacking either corn or soybeans are reducing yield more than realized.
Bob Springer, farmer and Channel brand seed dealer, in Metamora, Ill., did his own evaluation with corn in 2009. He was questioning the cause of a sickly-looking stand of corn in a field and decided to test for nematodes.
"It tested high for spiral and dagger nematodes, not exceptionally high but high, Springer said. So, in 2010, Springer did some trial work with seed treated with Bayer CropScience's Votivo biological seed treatment and a combination of Votivo and Barmac's Counter soil insecticide.
"I got about a 20-bushel advantage with the Votivo-treated corn compared to Poncho insecticide-only treated seed corn, and the Votivo/Counter combination was a couple bushels better than just Votivo alone. It was a field where Springer knew nematodes were likely to be found based on what he had seen and the cool, wet spring weather. In all of Bayer CropScience's field trials and independent yield trials, the average yield improvement has been about six bushels per acre.
"After seeing that area (in 2009) and identifying the problem, I could see areas in my other fields when sitting in the combine because generally the corn was shorter in oval areas that ran with the rows, Springer explained.
For the 2011 growing season, Bayer CropScience introduced Poncho/Votivo for corn, a combination of the biological seed treatment with the most trusted seed-applied insecticide in corn. "I used Poncho/Votivo on all my corn seed this year, Springer said, "for the combination of insecticide and nematode seed protection.
Eric Ifft, Bayer CropScience technical sales consultant, said he believes that Springer did the right thing in planting all his seed with nematode protection. Each year the question is: Will nematodes be high in the same fields in specific spots or in other fields?
"The problem is that you can't test until after the crop is planted, and the only way you can manage soil nematodes is by prevention. You just have to assume nematodes are everywhere, Ifft said.
"For many, many years, we were using soil insecticide in furrow or T-banded on nearly every acre planted with corn, Ifft said.
Poncho/Votivo on soybean seed, a new label approval for the 2012 growing season, has Springer interested. Channel was able to plant soybean test plots with customers this year.
"What I like about Poncho/Votivo is that it [Votivo] is a biological; it isn't toxic to beneficial nematodes or those handling it. All Poncho/Votivo does is put up a barrier around the roots so that the bad nematodes that want to feed on the corn or bean roots are kept away, Springer said in explaining what he has learned about the seed treatment.
Both Springer and Ifft noted that the same gene event providing beans with resistance to cyst nematodes has been used continuously for a long time. "We have used the same cyst nematode-resistant seed strains for several years, and I'm sure that the nematodes are building some resistance, Springer said.
Ifft said, "We believe Poncho/Votivo, in conjunction with the cyst resistance in the beans, is really the best way to manage cyst nematode populations as well as control insect pests.
Ifft can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.