As Mid-South and Southeast corn growers have planted more acres of the crop, they've also increased the inputs they use, including seed treatments to protect against damaging levels of soil insects and diseases.

Even so, growers in Mississippi's south Delta who ordered Poncho 1250 applied to their seed corn were pleasantly surprised this year when the seed treatment helped ward off infestations of sugar cane beetle.

“Sugar cane beetles virtually wiped out the corn in this untreated area,” said Chip Graham, Southern research and development manager for Gustafson. “The stand reduction you see in this area was 100 percent the result of the effect of sugar cane beetles.”

Graham was referring to test plots at the Gustafson Research and Development Farm near Benoit, Miss., site of the company's 2004 Seed Amendment Products Demonstration Field Day. The first part of the event was held on the Ed Hester Farm at Stringtown, Miss.

Poncho 1250 is the higher-rate version of Gustafson's new Poncho 250 seed treatment that is targeted at corn insects in the Midwest. Gustafson specialists felt the higher rate would be needed to combat the broader spectrum of soil insects infesting Southern corn.

“Poncho 1250 with its 5X rate seems to have a fit in the Mid-South for sugar cane beetles,” said Graham. “Poncho 250 also does a good job in other areas, but 1250 seems to have a little better activity against wireworms and chinch bugs.”

A corn insecticide study at the Gustafson Farm last spring showed plots planted with seed treated with Poncho 1250 produced significantly higher plant populations than those treated with Poncho 250 and another commercially available seed treatment.

The Poncho 1250 plots produced an average of more than 24,000 plants per acre, compared to slightly more than 21,000 for Poncho 250, 20,000 for the other seed treatment and less than 18,000 for plants receiving no seed treatment. (The seed were also treated with Gustafson's Trilex fungicide and with Allegiance.)

In 2003, a similar study on the Dee River Farm near Macon, Miss., seed treated with Poncho 250 produced slightly higher populations than two other commercial seed treatments and an untreated check.

“Nationally, this has been a fantastic year for the 250 rate of Poncho,” said Andy Carlton, vice president of sales for Gustafson. “Poncho 250 is the broadest spectrum material out there. The complaint rate has been 0.5 to 1 percent.”

Charlton said the effectiveness of Poncho transcends regional lines. “Farther north, Poncho 250 has been very good on wireworms and grubs. In the South, Poncho 1250 protects against a wider range of pests.

“Both rates are providing better stands, more plants per acre and better, stronger corn plants.”

Growers, consultants and seed dealers attending the field day also observed the effects of Gustafson's Gaucho insecticide on soybeans.

“Iowa now has a Section 18 exemption for Gaucho for control of bean leaf beetles in soybeans,” said Graham. “In the South, we're looking at its effectiveness on grape colaspis, which is a problem in soybeans and in rice in Arkansas. We've seen increases of 6 to 8 bushels per acre in soybeans treated with Gaucho in Arkansas trials.”

Researchers are also conducting seedling disease trials with Trilex and Allegiance in soybeans now that the latter has become a profitable crop in the southeastern United States again.

Graham said Gustafson recently received a new registration for Gaucho 500, its seed treatment for cotton. Gaucho 500 will be applied at the rate of 8 ounces of active ingredient per 100 pounds of seed.

“Gaucho 500 appears to provide a more-uniform stand of cotton and an extended window of protection against thrips,” he said. “The plants here withstood some pretty intense thrips pressure this year.”