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Cotton Consultant's Corner:
Natural Refuge Option

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Click here to ask Dee Boykin a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

  

   

 

  
Natural Refuge Option
Recap:
     

   

• With the 20 percent refuge option in Bollgard cotton, we are allowed to
spray for lepidopteran pests, but we know there is risk involved.
 
• In cotton, we are not allowed to spray for lepidopteran pests on the
five percent unsprayed refuge acres.
 
• Now, with the natural refuge option in eligible regions for Bollgard II – one
of the benefits of planting these varieties – the worrisome decision of
whether to choose the five percent or 20 percent refuge option is gone.
 
• With current Bt corn hybrids, 50 percent of the acres have to be planted to Bt, and the other 50 percent to non-Bt to hopefully delay resistance.
 
• If there is a possibility of reducing or eliminating the corn refuge, then
YieldGard VT Triple PRO hybrids will be what everyone wants to plant.
 

  

Dee Boykin
Boykin Agri Management, Inc.
Yazoo City, Miss. 
 

• BS degree in Agricultural Entomology – Mississippi State University
• Agricultural consultant for 28 years
• Long time member of Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association (MACA)
• President of MACA in 2000
• Served as director of MACA and chaired several committees
• I enjoy my work a a consultant and cattleman, as well as many other outdoor activities, which usually include family members.


A few years ago, we had a non-Bt cotton variety that performed well for us in this area, so a lot of our acres were in 20 percent refuge. With this option, we are allowed to spray for lepidopteran pests, but we know there is risk involved. We might run into insecticide resistance or face an overwhelming population that we couldn’t control. So whether to choose the five percent or 20 percent refuge option was always a big decision for us.

In cotton, we are not allowed to spray for lepidopteran pests on the five percent unsprayed option refuge acres. You have to let these pests reproduce and, hopefully, to breed out the possibility of resistance through cross mating.

Mississippi is now in the eligible region where we can choose to go with the natural refuge option for Bollgard II cotton, which would be one of the benefits of planting these varieties. That takes away the worrisome decision of whether to choose the five percent or 20 percent refuge. It’s been proven that there are plenty of wild hosts out there to supply enough Heliothis virescens to infiltrate the population, breed with them and delay resistance.

If we plant the current YieldGard corn, we have to plant 50 percent of the acres in Bt and 50 percent non-Bt to serve as refuge acres to hopefully delay resistance. In the Bt corn, we don’t have to deal with corn borers. That pest is effectively controlled. Unlike the five percent unsprayed option in cotton, we can spray the non-Bt hybrids for corn borers.

Now the YieldGard VT Triple PRO corn hybrids have an additional gene, which will give better control on the European and Southwestern corn borer and also control the corn earworm and fall armyworm. The Bt hybrids we currently have control some of the corn earworms, but very few of them.

Although we haven’t had many corn earworms last year and this year, I don’t think it will stay that way. Because there is a possibility of reducing the refuge requirements in corn, then down the road YieldGard VT Triple PRO will be what everyone wants to plant.

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