by Monsanto

Crop protection

Stalk borers: A thing of the past

Stalk borers are now a thing of the past, says Monsanto

A limited quantity of this maize seed was introduced commercially during the 2011/12 season. Farmers in Lichtenburg and Jan Kempdorp, where minor problems were experienced with the control of stalk borers with YieldGard® I (MON810), experienced no stalk borer infestation with YieldGard® II during the past season.

“With YieldGard® II stalk borers are a thing of the past,” says Kobus du Preez, well-known maize producer from Grootpan, Lichtenburg.

He has been planting GM maize of which 80% is GM, on approximately 2 000ha for the past 10 years. In 2006, he was elected the Agricultural Writers SAs Farmer of the Year for the Northwest region. He planted 45 ha YieldGard® II, 78-45 BR GEN stack gene, white maize under centre pivot at a plant population of 50 000/ha in row widths of 760mm. His yield was 14.1t/ha. No stalk borer infestation was observed.

In the same block next to the new maize, and under centre pivot, he also planted 30ha of the old Bt MON 810 at the same plant population. Here stalk borers were found. The yield was 13.8t/ha. With conventional maize his yield was 12t/ha. The difference in yield with the new technology is 300kg/ha more. At an average price of R1600/t this means an additional profit of R480/ha for the farmer. On a 100 ha this amounts to a considerable R48 000.

A distinct characteristic of the new technology is that maize plants now contain two proteins that lead to the undoing of two stalk borers, namely Busseola fusca and Chilo partelus. Another advantage is that with this stack gene, Roundup Ready® Plus (L7769, Act 36/1947) can be sprayed over the top of the maize plants up to the eight leaf stage to control late germinating weeds. Although MON 810 still experiences minor stalk borer resistance, Du Preez harvested 20t/ha on 60 ha, 62-80 BR GEN, Bt yellow maize under centre pivot with a plant population of 100 000/ha, last season. He had to spray for stalk borers only once. This is an ultra-fast grower that reached physiological maturing within 112 days.

Spray cost per tractor amounts to R130/ha and aerial R160/ha, chemical cost excluded. With the new technology where spraying has become unnecessary, the saving on spray cost must be added to the additional profit of R480/ha. With a saving of R130 tractor spray cost, this amounts to a total of R610/ha extra profit.

“Presently, YieldGard® II is the best technology available to us. It takes approximately 10 years and US$ 100-million (R894.5-million) to launch a new product in the market.

“I urgently appeal to farmers to protect this technology by planting the required refuge areas.

“To realise high yields under irrigation, you need adequate sunlight, soil depth, soil moisture (water) and the correct cultivar choice (and population). Fertiliser must be right. If one of these is lacking, you again revert to lower yields,” Du Preez emphasised.

Koos Bredenhann from Jan Kempdorp who planted 125 ha YieldGard® II under centre pivot, says he experienced no stalk borer damage. He planted the cultivar (DKC) 64-78 BR GEN, a yellow maize, ultra-short grower, at a plant population of 80 000/ha in row widths of 900mm.

Says Bredenhann: “Three seasons ago, I experienced serious problems with stalk borers. In the past I had to spray twice per season for stalk borers. Last season there were no signs of stalk borer with YieldGard® II. This also gave a significant saving on spray and labour costs. The maize was planted on 20 December and was physiologically mature within 114 days. This suited those of us who planted wheat and followed up with maize on the same field. This maize shows improved standability, disease resistance and a higher yield potential.

“This development of the Bt-maize technology made a significant difference to the farmer’s profitability. Twelve years ago my yield with conventional maize under irrigation was less than 10t/ha. With the Bt-maize this increased dramatically to 13.4t/ha. During the past season with fluctuating climate conditions, it was 10t/ha with YieldGard® II. I am very satisfied with it,” concludes Bredenhann.

 Du Preez’s fertilising programme comprised:

  • 280kg N, 45kg P and 50kg K/ha;
  • Prior to the first ploughing or chisel tillage, 1500kg gypsum, 500 kg 20:7:3 (30zn)+s fertiliser and 200kg chicken manure/ha are applied to be ploughed in;
  • At planting, 200kg 5:3:4(19)+ZN plus 8kg flow trace/ha are applied;
  • The rest of the nitrogen as 7:0:1(18) is applied in four increments up to and including the eight week stage;
  • At the six-leaf stage, Gliogrow is applied with the high-sprayer and then again shortly before tassel stage;
  • Leaf sap is monitored throughout the season; and
  • If necessary, KNO3 technical is also applied before the tassel stage.

For more information please contact us:

Tel: 011 790-8201



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