Monsanto Looks to Strike Nematodes with New Seed Treatment in 2018

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At the 2017 Commodity Classic, Monsanto BioAg was working to educate farmers about the presence of nematodes and the damage that can be done in corn, soybean and cotton fields. Company representatives also showcased a new seed treatment, NemaStrike Technology, that is still pending regulatory approval by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Nematodes are an underground invisible pest that feeds on plants’ roots, leaving them open to infectious diseases. The resulting symptoms might include wilting, yellowing and stunting.

Monsanto’s Jared Thomas, seed applied solutions portfolio manager, says these symptoms can easily be misidentified as drought stress, fertility deficiency or disease.

“That’s one of the reasons that nematodes are tough to recognize,” he said, adding that sometimes the symptoms aren’t even visible, so growers don’t even recognize they have a problem.

Thomas explained that there have been education initiatives about nematodes for cotton and soybeans but that corn is a different story. “There’s been less investment, and we at Monsanto been trying to understand where nematodes exist,” he said. “There’s work that’s really just being started right now.”

In August, Monsanto worked with a third party to take soil samples across a number of states to understand where nematodes exist. Thomas said that of all the states sampled, plant parasitic nematodes were present on more than 80 percent of the acres.

However, he shared that market research looking at perceptions of farmers showed that only 8 percent of farmers are actually concerned about nematodes.

“We see a disparity there,” Thomas said. “That’s why we believe that growers are really significantly underestimating the problem of plant parasitic nematodes.”

Thomas shared that nearly 30 different nematode species exist for corn, and the economic threshold for controlling those nematodes varies by species.

Protecting the Roots

For the past three years, Monsanto has been broadly testing a new proprietary nematicide with a novel mode of action, to be branded as NemaStrike Technology pending regulatory approvals.

Thomas explained that this seed treatment has the ability to stay in the root zone.

“It’s hydrophobic so it’s not water soluble,” he said. “It doesn’t translocate upward to the plant and it also doesn’t leach down to the soil. When you apply it to the seed, it has the ability to stay right there in the root zone, which is ideal for nematode management.”

Additionally, Thomas said this chemistry provides broad spectrum control against nearly every plant parasitic nematode that affects corn, soybeans and cotton.

We are really excited about this new chemistry and pending registration, which is expected this spring, it will be launched for the 2018 growing season, he said.

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