January 16, 2018

Corn Farmers Encouraged to Plant a Refuge to Preserve Bt Technology

Corn growers in southern areas of the U.S. will pull their planters out of the shed and into the field in only a few short weeks. Bt corn will be planted on millions of acres across the South, protecting plants from damaging insects like corn borer and corn earworm. But to ensure that the technology remains effective, farmers in cotton-growing areas must plant a structured refuge alongside their Bt corn.
“Planting a refuge is the single most important thing we can do to keep Bt traits working for years to come,” said Chad Wetzel, a farmer from Tom Bean, Texas, and member of the National Corn Growers Association Freedom to Operate Action Team. “If we lose Bt technology as a defense against insects, growing corn will change dramatically.”
Southern corn growers must plant their fields to include either a 20 or 50 percent refuge, depending on the Bt hybrid planted. The purpose of planting a refuge area is to prevent pests from developing resistance to the Bt technology. That refuge ensures that the insect population remains susceptible to Bt technology, keeping Bt corn effective for the grower.
A refuge is part of an insect resistance management plan, and farmers who do not comply with refuge requirements risk losing access to the technology, but it is also essential for Bt stewardship.
“I know all too well that planting a refuge may seem like a non-essential extra step during a busy time of year,” says Wetzel. “Taking short cuts now will only hurt us long-term. We can’t risk losing Bt technology like we’ve lost the effectiveness of some of our herbicide technologies.”
The Take Action program encourages farmers to take the necessary steps to preserve the effectiveness of Bt technology. In addition to planting a refuge, farmers should consider additional actions to keep the technology effective, such as:
  • Use of multiple management strategies, including:
    • o   Rotating crops
    • o   Using pyramided traits
    • o   Rotating Bt traits
    • o   Rotating and using multiple modes of action for all insecticide seed treatments and insecticide applications
  • Scouting to determine effectiveness of control measures used and identify whether further action is necessary
Farmers interested in learning more about Take Action and insect resistance management can visit www.IWillTakeAction.com.
NCGA News of the Day

CommonGround Volunteer Introduces Consumers to Plant Breeding Innovation

commongroundFor more than seven years, CommonGround volunteers have served as resources for consumers who have questions about how their food is grown. In a newly-released video, CommonGround Iowa volunteer Sara Ross shares her perspective on plant breeding innovation with the help of a fellow mom – and plant breeder – Jessie Alt.

“Plant breeding innovation will help us continue to be sustainable and improve on our sustainability so our sons can one day possibly step into the role of farmer on our family farm,” says Ross.

Changes in the earth’s climate, along with new pests and diseases can impact our food supply. For that reason, among others, farmers are focused on continuous improvement and new technologies that allow them to produce more with less. Plant breeding innovation is one example of agricultural progress that has benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment.

“Plant breeding innovation is about using our best technology to bring plants forward to help people grow better food,” explains plant breeder Jessie Alt.

In addition to the new video, CommonGround also released other new online resources to further explain plant breeding innovation and its impact on farmers and consumers.

“I understand that consumers have questions about what they’re feeding their families,” says Ross. “I want them to know that plant breeding innovation has so many benefits to farmers and to consumers. We want what’s best for the land and our families and consumers.”

CommonGround is a grassroots movement to foster conversation among women — on farms and in cities — about where our food comes from. The National Corn Growers Association, the United Soybean Board and their state affiliates developed CommonGround to give farm women the opportunity to engage with consumers through a wide range of activities. For more information, visit www.findourcommonground.com.

Monsanto Forecasts 40 Million Acres of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend Soybeans in 2018

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed and ag chemical company says it expects U.S. farmers will plant 40 million acres of its dicamba-tolerant GMO soybeans this year, double the 2017 total and equal to four of every 10 acres of projected soybean plantings.

Monsanto prominently included the continued adoption of its dicamba-resistant soybeans among its “expected drivers of growth” in business this year during a conference call with investors.

Monsanto said it “continues to expect 40 million acres of Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans to be planted in fiscal year 2018.”

President Brett Begemann.

Monsanto’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, Rob Fraley.

The company isn’t providing detailed guidance for full-year earnings, as its $66 billion takeover by Germany’s Bayer AG is still pending.

Monsanto expects the Bayer deal to close in early 2018, with about half of regulatory approvals secured so far.