GENET archive


2-Plants: Novartis announces cost advantages of Bt maize

-------------------------- GENET-news ---------------------------

TITLE:  The results are in: 1999 European Corn Borer scouting
        project turns up new information to help growers make
        better decisions
        8.6 bu/ac yield advantage indicates Bt corn really does
SOURCE: Novartis, Press Release, sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE:   January 13, 2000

----------------- archive: ------------------

The results are in: 1999 European Corn Borer scouting project
turns up new information to help growers make better decisions
8.6 bu/ac yield advantage indicates Bt corn really does pay

Arva, ON: "The more we research the devastating nature of the
corn borer, the better information we have to confirm the true
benefits of Bt corn," notes Cathy Soanes, Technical Information
Management with Novartis Seeds and the agronomist who has led the
European Corn Borer (ECB) Scouting Project over the last four

"Data collected by our team of field scouts across Ontario and
Quebec shows that NK(TM) Bt hybrids averaged 8.6 bushels more per
acre than their respective isolines," says Soanes. She adds that
scouting results confirm previous research that showed the
greater the insect pressure, the greater the yield advantage.
"Producers likely experienced a range of yield benefits from
using Bt hybrids, starting at five bushels per acre in low
pressure areas to as high as 15.7 bushels per acre in severe
pressure areas."

As in previous years, corn borer infestation levels varied across
Ontario and Quebec. Doug Knight, marketing manager for Novartis
Seeds, points out that this unpredictability is why growers
continue to increase the acres planted to NK brand Bt hybrids.
"Our research shows that corn borer pressure varies from year to
year and area to area, but planting Bt corn resulted in a yield
advantage across infestation levels. The average of 8.6 bushels
per acre that we've found translates into $24.94* more per acre
or $68.59* more value per unit. That means a better bottom line."

Since 1996, Novartis Seeds has combed through hundreds of corn
fields to collect concrete information that growers can use to
help evaluate the impact of the corn borer. "We're excited
because we now have four years of solid data we can draw on to
make management recommendations," says Soanes. She adds that
Novartis also analyzed the scouting data to determine if there
were differences in yield losses between conventional and
conservation tillage systems due to corn borer. "We were
surprised to find that the average yield loss over a three year
period fell in a narrow range from 5.4 to 5.8 per cent, when we
compared differences in management practices," acknowledges
Soanes. Soanes adds that tremendous strides in understanding how
the corn borer affects plant health and yield have been made
since the project's inception.

Bt's impact on vomitoxins is one such area. Although Soanes notes
that choosing a hybrid with strong natural ear-mould tolerance is
key, 1999 studies showed that non-Bt hybrids have as much as
seven times the amount of vomitoxin when compared to Bt hybrids
where corn borers were present. Growers have come to expect
higher yields, better standability and improved bushel weights
with Bt hybrids, now they can expect lower vomitoxin levels too.

* 8.6 bu/ac x $2.90/bu = $24.94 x 2.75 ac/unit = $68.59 


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