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Friday, October 13, 2017

Southern High Plains IPM Newsletter, Oct 13

This week's newsletter is full of resources on late-season cotton management and fumonisin in corn.

Click here to read! 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Cotton Market Teleconference - this Friday, Oct 13

Get up to date on cotton market information this Friday, October 13.

- Cotton Outlook Teleconference

- Friday, October 13, 2017 at 7:30am

- O.A. Cleveland, Professor Emeritus, Mississippi State University
- John Robinson, Professor and Extension Specialist/Cotton Marketing, Texas A&M University
- Jarral Never, President, Calcot Ltd.
- Patrick McClatchy, Executive Director, Ag Market Network

Guest Speaker:
- H.W. "Kip" Butts, Senior Cotton Analyst and Director of Energy Services, Information Economics

How to listen in:
- Call 712-775-7085
- Code 969119

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fumonisin Levels and Insect Damage in Corn

The following is a blogpost written by Dr. Pat Porter, Extension Entomologist, for FOCUS on Entomology, a blog of agricultural entomology on the Southern High Plains from Texas A&M Agrilife Research and Extension. 

Fumonisin Levels and Insect Damage in Corn

Pat Porter

I am not smart enough to be a Plant Pathologist, and in fact had two courses in it in college and still don't understand it. The classic 'disease triangle' taught in pathology says that disease occurs where there is a pathogen, susceptible host and conducive environment. This year we seem to have had a happy triangle for Fumarium species, the causative agents of fumonisins. 

Not much is known locally about how this fungi interact with our corn, but is it thought that drought stress followed by warm, wet weather, especially at flowering, favor the fungi. Being just an entomologist, I tend to think there is a baseline risk for significant fungal infections based on the susceptibility of the host (hybrid genetics) and environmental conditions. Without insects in the system there will be a given level of fungal growth and fumonisin creation. In my simplistic entomologist's picture, the baseline level is what it is and can vary from year to year, but insect damage can add to this level by opening wounds on the ear and/or by insects carrying fungal spores into the ear. 

Dr. Ed Bynum and I did some work at Lubbock in 2012 that looked at the amount of fumonisin in ears with three different levels of insect damage, and more fumonisin was found with higher levels of insect damage. This was one hybrid of non-Bt corn that we sprayed with different timings of insecticide so as to get the three damage levels. 

Figure 1. Type of ear damage and fumonisin levels associated with that damage, 2012.

This year there is a need to try and determine to what extent insect damage might be contributing to fumonisin levels, but this is not easy to do unless the hybrids have the same genetic background (inherent susceptibility) and are grown in the same field under the same conditions. One seed company has a small plot field trial near Ralls, and they were kind enough to allow me to sample ears from their new hybrid that contains Vip3a and other toxins, and an older Bt type that has fewer toxins but still the same genetic background as the new type of corn. This is a fair comparison for determining the role of insects. The older type of Bt corn averaged 3.6 damaged kernels per ear, while the new corn with Vip3a was essentially undamaged. Even the silks on the new type of corn were intact. The photos below represent what I saw in the field today.

Figure 2. New hybrid with Vip3a and other toxins (top) and older Bt with two toxins (bottom). The new hybrid was essentially without insect damage. In the olde hybrid the insect damage was only at the tip, but fungal growth could proceed through much of the ear.
The same photo as above, but rendered in an infrared simulation that highlights the kernels damaged by fungi.
It is common on the High Plains for nearly every ear of corn to have corn ear worm damage, and this year was no different and not significantly worse. In the opinion of this entomologist, the problems we are having this year are primarily due to environmental conditions that favored Fusarium. Having said that, I have worked with Vip3a corn for six years, and in all that time have only seen two live caterpillars in thousands of ears examined. Vip3a corn is essentially bulletproof for now, and if the goal is to reduce caterpillar damage then this type of corn is the way to do. Of course it is more expensive than older Bt technologies. All of the seed companies put other Bt toxins in with Vip3a. Pioneer sells their Vip3a corn as Optimum Leptra or AcreMax Leptra, Monsanto is now beginning commercial sales for 2018 as Trecepta, and Syngenta calls it Agrisure Viptera or Agrisure Duracade 5222. This is not to say that these hybrids won't have fumonisin problems; the inherent susceptibility might be more or less. It is to say that they will have less insect damage, which our data suggest ultimately play a role in fumonisin.

Update on 10/11/17: Erin Louise Bowers did her Ph.D. dissertation on the benefits of transgenic corn in reducing fumonisin levels. She found that Cry1Ab + Vip3a corn had lower fumonisin levels than other types of Bt corn and non-Bt corn. The work is here. 

Resources for Fumonisin in Corn on the High Plains

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been reports of mycotoxins (Fumonisin) showing up in early harvested corn. If you suspect you have Fumonisin in your field, the process starts before harvest. Click below to read the protocol from the Texas Corn Producers that outlines the process to follow.

Mycotoxin levels on High Plains post threat to region's corn farmers 

It states, in part:

  1. Make insurance provider aware of the suspected issue prior to harvest, storage or destruction of the cornfield.
  2. Adjuster must collect samples of the Representative Sample Area (RSA) prior to the grain entering storage or the destruction of the field. Only the adjuster is approved to obtain samples from the standing crop. 
  3. An Approved Insurance Provider (AIP)-Approved Testing Facility (i.e. laboratory) must complete analysis of these samples. 

What is Fumonisin? 

Understanding Fumonisin Contamination of Corn: Contrasts and Comparisons with Aflatoxin

How Can I Reduce My Risk?

Best Management Practices to Prevent or Reduce Mycotoxin Contamination of Corn in Texas

The Office of the Texas State Chemist has more information on Fumonison Sampling, Testing, and Risk Management in Corn .