Pre-Season Crop Protection 101

‘Talk to your agronomist & outline a Plan A, B or C & figure out the best products to use.’

by Kristen Lutz

With planting season ahead, crop-protection is now a focal point. While allowing for expected herbicide shortages, producers are planning their applications. New products offer potential relief with broader crop protection, higher concentrations and new genetics.

Better Farming spoke with experts about some of the solutions for the 2022 planting and growing season.

New herbicides on the market

Weeds continue to challenge producers’ profitable yields year after year. Crop protection is becoming more essential with the rising numbers of herbicide-resistant weeds and unpredictable weather that favours their growth.

For a wider range of crop protection, BASF has developed weed additions to a number of their herbicide labels. These labels now state that some products protect against the key glyphosate-resistant weed species.

Rob Miller, regional technical services manager for Eastern Canada with BASF, says Liberty 200’s label has been adjusted to include “multiple glyphosate-resistant weeds to its list and it should be used in conjunction with a soil-applied residual herbicide to take an integrated systems approach to manage these weeds.”

Liberty 200 is designed for Enlist E3 soybeans.

“We are (also) looking at different application timing for products such as Zidua SC. We have expanded the use pattern for both pre- and post-emergence in soybeans. This increases the application window for growers and helps them with their weed control.”

Early Soybean Field
    Adam Pfeffer photo

Although there may not be any new additives that have become available from the Pest Management Regulatory Industry, “there are a couple of new brand names that are entering the marketplace,” says Mike Cowbrough, weed specialist for field crop and chief inspector of the Weed Control Act for OMAFRA.

Newly released from FMC is Express FX. “It contains tribenuron and a very low rate of dicamba. It is intended to be tank-mixed with a low rate of glyphosate,” explains Cowbrough. “The herbicide is registered for use as a pre-plant herbicide to cereals or a post-harvest herbicide for fall weed control.”

Adam Pfeffer, agronomic systems manager at Bayer CropScience, offers insight on their new product, Corvus. Pfeffer says it’s been available in the U.S. for a number of years, but they have recently been approved for selling in Eastern Canada. “This product is a combination of a Group 27 isoxaflutole HPPD with a Group 2, broadening our weed control with this herbicide. As well as strong residual control with both Group 2 and Group 27, this will be our new intro to the marketplace this spring.”

Pfeffer continues to explain that Corvus has a lot of flexibility. “It can be used for pre-plant incorporation and has a broad spectrum of broadleaves and grasses covered. It can be tank-mixed with an atrazine and/or a Group 15 for a full season residual option or as a setup program ahead of a planned in-crop Roundup application. It can be used pre-plant, incorporated pre-emerge and up to early post and I have used a little on my farm last year and I look forward to using more of it.”

Corteva Agriscience is introducing Prominex, a herbicide that Brad Orr describes as useful, “particularly in Ontario for winter wheat.”

Orr is marketing lead with Corteva and says that Prominex “has perennial and annual control, and is a three-active-ingredient product.”

Prominex can be applied on annual or perennial broadleaf weeds in early or late crop staging. When tank mixing, it should be mixed with a Group 1 grass herbicide for wheat and barley and Group 2 grass herbicide for wheat. It can also be mixed with MCPA Ester 600 or 2,4-D Ester for expanded Group 4 broadleaf control.

Fungicides

Often we seek to reduce pressure on crops from visible competition like weeds. However, stress from disease can often be equally or more detrimental to yields.

“New fungicides have entered the market with products to control tar spot that have been tested for several years,” says Marty Vermey, senior agronomist with Grain Farmers of Ontario. “We’ve certainly had a great test last year in some of the hot spots in Ontario.”

Vermey says there are a couple of new products that have been registered and will be available this growing season – Veltyma from BASF and Delaro Complete from Bayer CropScience.

BASF’s Miller explains Veltyma is ideal for corn, wheat and potatoes. “It contains a new active ingredient called Revysol which is a Group 3 Azole fungicide, which provides broader, stronger and longer activity.”

Miller says that this fungicide lives up to its slogan. Broader because Veltyma “is registered on a wide variety of crops and controls a wide range of diseases. Stronger, because it has a strong binding at the target site and has fast-acting control. Where it really separates itself is its extended or longer activity on some of these key leaf diseases, especially on corn, with tar spot, northern corn leaf blight and leaf rust being the three main diseases.

“We have been working with this compound for the past 12 years and it is really exciting to showcase its leaf disease protection. Veltyma will be a combination of Revysol (Group 3) and pyraclostrobin (Group 11), the same active ingredient in Headline fungicide, so it will have two modes of effective action on some of the key leaf diseases our producers face.”

Bayer’s Pfeffer explains the functionality of Delaro Complete. “It has three different modes of action – Group 3, Group 7 and Group 11.

“It builds on our Stratego PRO baseline by adding in fluopyram, which is a Group 7 SDHI.

“We’ve seen improved white mould suppression in soybeans and enhanced tar spot management in corn, better overall leaf disease protection and longer overall durability against foliar diseases.”

New crop protection tech

Although herbicides and fungicides are the primary modes of action against pests, other biotechnologies can aid in plant growth and overall performance. For example, Corteva has recently launched Utrisha N, a nutrient efficiency biostimulant.

“It’s the first from a biostimulant standpoint from Corteva to come to market. It enhances plant growth and resiliency by improving nitrogen availability all year long,” says Orr.

Tractor parked in front of crop field
    Nutrient efficiency biostimulants are alternate biotechnologies that can help plant growth and overall performance. - Corteva photo

Utrisha N uses a bacteria that colonizes on the leaf. This bacteria is able to draw in nitrogen from the atmosphere without disrupting the nutrient needs of the plant. “You’ll have the right amount of nutrients available to the plant all year round. It is an exciting new space to be the first from a major company this year,” says Orr.

“There is really nothing like it in the marketplace that will colonize on the leaf, draw nitrogen into the plant and give it all the nutrients it needs all year long.

“I think it’s really important that we continue to build this out, and we have other products coming down the pipeline within that biological space that give growers the opportunity to manage their farms and operations moving forward,” he continues.

Meanwhile, genetics continue to develop and improve crop yields and resistance to inclement weather and other pressures. For example, Corteva is continuing to develop their Enlist soybean trait.

Enlist E3 soybean system is “a trait that has tolerance to 2-4-D glyphosate and glufosinate, and with the Enlist system the herbicide stays in place,” says Orr.

“You can spray with confidence because of its advanced herbicide technology giving outstanding weed control. This year with the Enlist trait there are going to be 11 new varieties in the Pioneer brand and nine in the Brevant brand and we are continuing to grow that portfolio.”

Additionally, Bayer is working on new corn rootworm genetics called SmartStax PRO which uses RNAi technology, with an anticipated introductory launch in 2023.

“The RNAi component on this trait is unique; there is no other RNAi trait in the marketplace for insect control,” says Pfeffer. “This is a unique third mode of action. It’s a higher dose kill for corn rootworm; by stacking it in with our current SmartStax technology (it provides) efficacy and improved durability.”

With some producers adding canola to Ontario crop rotations, BASF is celebrating the 25th anniversary of InVigor hybrid canola by introducing two new hybrids: InVigor L343 PC and InVigor L340 PC.

“These are both high-yielding, have pod shatter reduction, and first-generation clubroot resistance. In the L343 PC we see a second generation clubroot resistance,” says Miller.

He explains “clubroot is becoming an increasing concern for canola growers across the province. Growers are starting to see patches sprouting up in their field and that’s where we see the benefit of having both first and second generation of clubroot resistance in our portfolio.”

Herbicide shortages

There is much chatter about a herbicide shortage for this growing season. Experts agree that popular herbicides such as glyphosate may not be as readily available as producers are used to.

“It’s pretty variable and depends on a lot of different factors. From manufacturing breakdowns, sourcing of raw ingredients, supply chain breakdowns due to freight/transportation difficulties and so on. Additionally, low supply of one product changes the demand on other products, which then run out due to this unforeseen increase in demand,” says Vermey.

With this in mind, producers may be more likely to use generic herbicides that don’t have a well-known name or create tank mixtures that would be similar to your normal herbicide.

“We are confident that growers can find a solution that they need. It may not be their first solution but they really need to think about making sure they’ve developed a good plan diagnosing their needs, thinking about their crop rotations, thinking about their weed rotations and looking at all the alternatives other than their first choice that they can use,” explains Orr.

Cowbrough outlines several realities that producers will be facing this growing season with herbicide shortages. He stresses being “more precise about rate. For example, you may have erred on using a higher rate of glyphosate because it was relatively inexpensive and it ensured that you would get great control if weeds got a bit bigger. But with tighter supplies, you might go to the lower labelled rates and target weeds earlier when they are smaller. You’ll still get the same level of control at the end of the day, but you have less wiggle room to apply the product because weed size will be the primary driver for successful control.”

Planning ahead and having conversations with your retailer are essential for this growing season, and will improve your ability to get the products you’ll need. “I think it comes back to the fundamentals,” says Orr.

“Make sure you have that good cropping plan in place, understand the genetics that you are putting in and what they are going to need to maximize their potential. Make sure that you are scouting and spraying for the right reasons and doing it at the right timing,” he continues.

Corn Field Starting to Grow
    ‘Do aggressive and timely scouting to make sure you are making the most out of your herbicide applications.’ - Adam Pfeffer photo

Miller agrees. “Growers still need to do aggressive and timely scouting to make sure you are making the most out of your herbicide applications. Apply herbicides when the weeds are small and actively growing, select the right product that has two effective modes of action on that weed species and at the right rate as well.

“Definitely talk to your agronomist and outline a Plan A or B or C and figure out what are the best products to use.”

“Plan early and start clean with a pre-plant or pre-emergent program that will give you more options and set you up for a higher chance of success,” says Vermey.

Orr agrees. “It’s about being agile, thinking through those choices, rather than going through the season and having an emergency because you didn’t have a second plan in place.”

“Manage your risk, and as frustrating as crop inputs are, enjoy the high crop prices. Have some fun and enjoy it! The world is going through some challenges these days and I personally cannot wait to get my equipment out and start breaking ground,” concludes Pfeffer. BF

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