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Managing Corn Rootworm

Categories: GROWING, CORN
  • Corn rootworm (CRW) has adapted to decades of management strategies and continues to be destructive.
  • The Agrisure Duracade® trait adds a different tool to the toolbox for CRW management.
  • Diversity in management practices is key for long-term success in managing CRW.
Corn rootworm (CRW) is the most destructive corn pest in the U.S., costing farmers more than $1 billion annually in reduced grain yield and control measures. Larvae feed on roots, resulting in underdeveloped root systems, reduced nutrient uptake, weak brace roots and lodged corn (Figure 1). Adult CRW beetles can interfere with pollination by feeding on pollen and clipping silks, resulting in poor ear fill, and they also lay eggs in the soil that endanger future corn crops.

CRW is a difficult pest to manage, and repeated use of the same single management practice will eventually end in disappointment as the pest will adapt. There is no silver bullet for CRW, but smart planning and hybrid selection are key to building a sustainable, multi-year management plan. 
  • Crop rotation: Rotate to non-host crops, like soybeans, to break up CRW’s normal life cycle. Adapted variants of CRW (known as western CRW variant or northern CRW with extended diapause) have changed their lifecycles to overcome single-year rotation (Figure 2). Be aware of the local presence of variants and their impact on rotation effectiveness.
  • Dual mode of action CRW traits: Choose hybrids with CRW traits such as Agrisure Duracade and Agrisure® 3122 trait stacks that provide a dual mode of action to protect against CRW.
  • Insecticides: Use soil-applied insecticides like Force® 6.5G for larvae control and foliar-applied insecticides like Warrior II with Zeon Technology® for adult beetles to minimize silk clipping and reduce egg laying.
Multi-year plans should implement different CRW control methods in different years to minimize CRW adaptation to one technology. The plan may need to change each season, depending on pressure, but having a plan in place gives farmers a head start.

The Agrisure Duracade trait, the most recently registered CRW trait, expresses a protein that binds differently in the gut of CRW than any other trait on the market. Additionally, it is always stacked with a second mode of action against CRW, making it a good tool for managing CRW (Figure 3). Golden Harvest Agronomy in Action research trials have evaluated the effectiveness of Agrisure Durcade across multiple years and demonstrated improved root protection (Graph 2) and yield (Graph 1) when used alone or in combination with soil-applied insecticides across many different pest levels. Whether trying to protect yield or preserve effectiveness of current management practices, effective CRW management will require the integration of multiple control practices, not a singular technology.

Managing Low Pressure CRW
If little to no signs of previous larval feeding or adult beetle populations have been observed and you are planting corn in areas with western CRW variant, northern CRW extended diapause or corn following corn, consider using at least one of following management practices:
  1. Hybrids with multiple mode of action CRW traits
  2. Non-CRW traited hybrid combined with Force 6.5G soil-applied insecticide.
If planting first-year corn in areas where CRW has not yet adapted to corn rotation management, consider using a non-CRW traited hybrid, such as a hybrid with the Agrisure 3220 trait, that provides broad-spectrum control of above-ground pests. If other soil insects are present, consider adding Force 6.5G soil-applied insecticide.

Options for Managing Heavy CRW Pressure
  1. Crop rotation: Rotate to non-host crops, such as soybeans, in fields with a history of high CRW presence or injury to break up the CRW life cycle.
  2. Traited corn hybrids:
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If there is NO history of root injury on traited hybrids:
    • Use hybrids with multiple CRW traits.
    • Scout and consider beetle control with a foliar-applied insecticide to minimize silk clipping and reduce female egg laying.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​If there is a history of feeding damage to traited hybrids and you are unable to rotate, use combination of:
    • Hybrids with multiple CRW traits.
    • Soil-applied insecticides.
Long-term CRW management requires a multi-year, whole-farm approach. There is an important balance between CRW control, yield protection and resistance management, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Effective CRW management will require the integration of multiple control measures, not a singular technology.

For more information on CRW management in your fields, contact your local Golden Harvest Seed Advisor.

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