ST. LOUIS, Mo., Sept. 12, 2007 - Dry weather and insect pressure can severely stress corn plants, undermining plant health and reducing yield potential. A series of 22 stress mitigation plots being monitored across the Corn Belt this season by Monsanto are illustrating those effects.
At these locations, a 40-by-66-foot tent has been erected over 24 rows of corn to prevent the plants from receiving rain. The tents have a clear vinyl top so the plants can receive sunlight.
The stress-mitigation test plots are being monitored this season at research facilities in Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, South Dakota and Ohio.
Under the tents, the first set of corn rows have no insect protection, the next rows are treated with soil-applied insecticides and the final group of rows is planted with new YieldGard VT Triple™ hybrids, which provide growers with better consistency, improved insect control and even higher yield potential than the first generation of YieldGard® in-plant insect control technology.
Clint Pilcher, Corn Insect Traits Technology Development Manager for Monsanto, said that even though rootworm pressure has been lighter this year compared with past seasons, the difference in plant health between the YieldGard VT Triple hybrids and soil insecticide-treated and untreated plants is clearly noticeable.
"Even with low levels of pressure, there is still a difference because of the improved water absorption resulting from the better protected roots of YieldGard VT™ technology," he said. Pilcher noted that the soil insecticide and nontreated hybrids are often shorter, with their leaves often curling due to dry conditions – signs of stress that can mean yield reductions at harvest.
"The test plots demonstrate how stacked corn traits can help reduce crop stress, especially under very dry conditions," he said.
Within each plot, moisture probes are being used to measure root absorption of soil moisture. Probes and sensors are also measuring wind speed and rainfall outside the tented area, and relay data back to a database every 15 minutes.
Pilcher added that the stress mitigation plots have generated considerable interest from farmers who have visited the locations this season. "Thousands of farmers have toured our stress mitigation sites. The plots offer a unique way of showing plant stress, and farmers are tuned into better understanding how to manage crop stress."