A new tool joins the fight against corn rootworm


Pests, such as corn rootworm, continue to evolve and so does the technology required to control these these yield-robbing insects.

At Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show earlier this month, Bayer Crop Science launched SmartStax Pro with RNAi technology, a new mode of action to help defend corn plants against the pest.

David Kikkert, Bayer Crop Science’s Canada portfolio lead for corn and soybeans, says the RNAi technology builds on the rootworm defence already delivered by Bt proteins. In this interview, he explains that Bt proteins produce a toxin that kills the rootworm when it is ingested by the pest. RNAi technology, however, works differently. When rootworms bite into corn and ingest RNAi, the technology disrupts the pest’s ability to create life-essential proteins necessary for  survival and effectively kills it.

Kikkert notes that it’s also important for growers to maintain best management practices, including crop rotation to help manage resistance to corn rootworm traits. He says hybrids carrying SmartStax Pro with RNAi technology will be widely available from a range of seed brands for 2024 planting.

Kikkert also gives growers a glimpse inside the Bayer Crop Science product pipeline and discusses what new traits and technology the company is expecting to commercialize in the near future.

Check out the full conversation with Kikkert and RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin, filmed at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show 2023, brought to you by PRIDE Seeds:

Click her for coverage of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

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