BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Farming is local, crop marketing is
global and a seed company takes this notion full circle with its product
“The best of both worlds is to have the ability to breed
globally and test locally,” said Lance Tarochione, Asgrow/DeKalb Illinois
technical agronomist, at the Ag Academy.
That local connection funnels down to specific locations
through Monsanto’s FieldScripts testing network, launched in Illinois, Indiana,
Iowa and Minnesota this year.
FieldScripts evaluates more than 20 data layers per field,
including soil type, topography and environment, to identify the best seed
selection and optimum planting rates.
“We’re determining hybrid fit, populations, trying to take
that germplasm that we developed and bring it down to not only what county it’s
going to perform best in, but also what field it’s going to perform best, what
soil type is it going to perform best in,” Tarochione said.
“Hopefully in the next couple of years maybe bring it down
to what the right nitrogen regime is to put on that hybrid, what’s the right
population to plant at, what’s the right time to plant and really how to manage
that to get the most out of that genetics.”
Hybrids and varieties entering the market also address
ever-evolving local needs to protect crops from diseases and pests. One example
is Goss’ bacterial wilt, a disease that thrives on continuous corn.
“Goss’ is not common, but it used to not exist at all (in
Illinois). And now over the last few years, it’s been cropping up a little
more,” Tarochione said.
“As that disease moves eastward and you needed hybrids that
were adapted to Illinois from a soil and grain-fill and yield potential
standpoint, we had to have those characteristics with Goss’ wilt resistance,
whereas 10 years ago we didn’t need that unless you were in Nebraska or western
Gray leaf spot and anthracnose stalk rot are common
yield-robbers across the Corn Belt.
“Gray leaf spot tends to get overlooked a little bit. Gray
leaf spot has been around a long time,” Tarochione said.
“We have a very high resistance to gray leaf spot in our
corn hybrids already. We can use fungicides to control gray leaf spot. We have a
lot of ways to control it, but it still is the No. 1 disease in corn
Tarochione said he sees the various stalk rots —
anthracnose, fusarium, diplodia and gibberella — in corn every year.
“If we continue to push yield and push population to the
limit, you’re going to have stalk rot. If you don’t have stalk rot in the
cornfield, you’re doing something wrong. You’re probably not planting thick
enough,” he said.
“Anthracnose stalk rot tends to be the most common stalk rot
pathogen we deal with. It’s also one of the most devastating, and we’re very
close to bringing out technology that’s going to significantly improve the
anthracnose stalk rot ratings of all of our hybrids. We’re also looking at not
just genetics, but also seed treatments for stalk rots.”
All of the technology used to protect DeKalb corn yields
also is used for Asgrow soybeans product development, including resistance to
cyst nematode, black mold, sudden death and lodging, as well as improve
“We’re able to deliver the same rapid genetic gains in yield
combined with strong agronomic disease characteristics in both of our primary
crops,” Tarochione said.
“Molecular markers are not new technology in breeding
anymore, but understanding the genome, understanding the genes that are there,
having markers associated with those genes, knowing what those genes can do for
a plant has very quickly enabled us to developed high yielding adaptive hybrids
with higher levels of resistance than what we had in our lineup just three or
four years ago.”