HERCULEX® Hybrids Protect Corn from Western Bean Cutworm Outbreak in Michigan

An increase in trappings of western bean cutworm (WBCW) across Michigan in 2008 has provided more supporting evidence that the pest is continuing to move east. Outbreaks of WBCW in western Michigan should remind growers to consider planting hybrids with HERCULEX® Insect Protection, the only in-plant protection from WBCW, next season to protect their crop investment.

The Crop Observation and Recommendation Network Newsletter from early September reported moths were captured in 55 traps spread across 26 counties in Michigan. It predicts that WBCW could be established in states as far east as Ohio. In the short term, local damage can be expected, and several growers in western Michigan have already reported WBCW damage on non-Bt hybrids.

The heaviest activity has been reported on the western side of the state, including the cornfields on Gary and Larry Lathwell’s farm in northwestern Michigan.

“In the traps near our farm, there were hundreds of moths, and we have found WBCW egg masses in all of our fields,” Gary Lathwell says. “It’s going to be a yearly problem, and we’re not going to get away from it soon.”

Despite the large number of trappings, Lathwell says, the damage to his corn was minimal because most of it contains HERCULEX technology.

“We found WBCW on the HERCULEX corn, but it didn’t do any significant damage,” he says. “We’re going to continue to plant as much HERCULEX as we can to protect our yields.”

While trapping and scouting are still considered good pest management options, planting HERCULEX I Insect Protection and HERCULEX® XTRA Insect Protection provide growers with the only in-plant protection from WBCW to protect plant health and provide better yields.

“Unlike corn earworm, multiple WBCW larvae can be found on a single ear. An infestation of WBCW larvae on a plant can reduce yield by 30 percent to 40 percent,” says Ed King, technology transfer leader for Dow AgroSciences. “With HERCULEX technology, growers can have the peace of mind that they are doing everything they can to prevent devastating crop loss.”

Growers who plant hybrids with HERCULEX XTRA next season also may be eligible for reduced crop insurance premiums.1 As part of the Risk Management Biotechnology Endorsement program, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation board of directors has declared planting Bt hybrids a reduced-risk practice and will reduce payments for growers who use the technology in their fields.

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