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Dealing With Corn Rootworm Resistance and Goss’s Wilt

Brian Hefty

We know you’re thinking about the upcoming growing season, so we’ve asked agronomists from different regions of the U.S. and Canada to provide their insights on what you should be looking for in 2012 to help you Be Ready for the future.

We begin with Brian Hefty of Ag PhD. Brian grew up on a farm and graduated from South Dakota State University. After working for an ag chemical company, he returned to join his father in the family seed and ag chemical business, Hefty Seed, which has since grown from one store to 33 stores in eight states. His brother, Darren, also joined the business, and in 1998, Brian and Darren started a television show called Ag PhD. They’ve produced a brand-new, half-hour show every week for the past 14 years. Through radio, television and workshops, the Heftys’ goal is to help educate farmers and help them improve their profitability. In this blog, Brian discusses corn rootworm issues and Goss’s Wilt. 

In our business, as well as in our communication efforts, our philosophy is to help farmers do more themselves, so they can make more money. Our dad explains it this way, and we heard it many times as we were growing up: “Guys, if you want to be successful on the farm, you have to find jobs that will pay you $100 per hour or more and do those jobs yourselves. Pay somebody else to do the $5 per hour jobs.”

For example, consider if you were to do your own spraying, your own fertilizer application, your own field scouting and your own tiling, among other things. How much are you charged if you hire someone to do those jobs and how many hours does it take? Those tasks are all way over $100 per hour jobs. The only reason most farmers don’t do those jobs is that they don’t feel confident they have the knowledge to do them. We try to help farmers get that knowledge so they can do the $100 per hour jobs.

There are two topics that aren’t getting enough press as we approach the 2012 growing season. One is rootworm resistance in corn and the other is Goss’s Wilt in corn.

Rootworm Resistance
In regard to rootworm resistance – we’re seeing problems with single-trait Bts. We haven’t had any issues (yet) with multiple-trait Bts, but we’re still concerned about it. There are bugs that aren’t dying, even after eating these single-trait Bts. We’ve had issues in certain regions where bugs take a bite and they don’t die, and that’s a big problem. The solution is to plant multiple-stack traits and use soil insecticides. If necessary, you may need to spray adult corn rootworm beetles in the summer, so you don’t have rootworms the next spring.

Goss’s Wilt
Goss’s Wilt is a bacterial disease – not a fungus – so you can’t control it with fungicides. It damages the leaves, and the earlier it shows up in the season, the more damage it does. If you get it late in the season, it usually just stays on the leaves and doesn’t cause a big problem – you’ll only lose about 10 to 15 bushels per acre. If you get it earlier in the season – for example, if you see it on corn plants before tasseling – not only will it be in the leaves, it will spread down into the stalk as well. In these situations, you might lose as much as 50 bushels per acre or more. It’s sad, because you see the disease ravaging your crop and there’s nothing you can do about it. We’ve seen it all across Nebraska and Iowa, and it’s in most of South Dakota and southern Minnesota. It doesn’t seem to have spread to northern Minnesota or North Dakota yet, but it might at some point and we’re concerned about it.

The only way to stop Goss’s Wilt in corn right now is to plant seed varieties that have a tolerance or resistance to it. As a farmer, you need to find seed corn varieties that have good Goss’s Wilt tolerance. We have had Goss’s Wilt on our own farm in South Dakota, so I absolutely will not plant a variety on our farm unless it has good Goss’ Wilt tolerance.

The problem we’re seeing is that farmers have ordered their seed with Goss’s Wilt tolerance, but then there’s a seed shortage. Certain varieties of seed corn are in very short supply this year. The seed dealer will tell you your seed never showed up and offer you another variety, but that variety might not have a good Goss’s Wilt score (which is why it didn’t get sold in the first place). There’s all this late-season substituting and I think we will see a tremendous amount of substitution this year because of the shortage of the better varieties. There’s more than enough seed corn to go around, but what the companies have is likely not the variety you really wanted to plant. The best thing to do is talk to your seed salesperson and make sure you’re getting the best variety possible for Goss’s Wilt tolerance.

Our goal is to provide more educational opportunities for farmers, whether through radio, television, our website or our workshops so you can do a better job of producing high yield crops while being good to the environment and continually improving profitability. For more information, email me at: brian@agphd.com or go to our website: Ag PhD. We welcome your comments and questions.

Editor’s Note: Have you experienced Goss’s Wilt problems? Are you also seeing resistance in corn rootworm? Tell us what’s happening on your farm and what solutions are working for you.

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  • Megan1.31.2012 Reply

    Great article and information! If you find yourself receiving substituted hybrids, you don’t have to settle. Check with your local Wyffels Hybrids DSM (or find yours at http://www.wyffels.com). There are still plenty top performing, good Goss’s Wilt scoring hybrids available.

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