Gustafson LLC's new Gaucho Grande insecticide seed treatment could be just what the doctor ordered for farmers who seem to be battling wet springs a lot more often than they used to.

Research shows that Gaucho Grande, which contains a higher rate of the active ingredient imidacloprid than Gaucho, appears to be giving growers longer control of thrips and aphids compared to that of competing products. It may also reduce plant bug numbers for up to 40 days after planting.

“I think farmers are going to find that Gaucho Grande can provide up to 35 days of thrips control, which is seven to 10 days longer than the competing seed treatments,” said Bobby Hendrix, southern region sales manager for Gustafson. “By using Gaucho Grande, producers may be able to eliminate over-sprays for thrips.”

“When you go out to the fourth or fifth true leaf is when you really see the difference with Gaucho Grande,” said Chip Graham, product development manager for Gustafson's Southern Region. “At five weeks, that's when you start to see a separation in treatments.”

Not having to spray a foliar insecticide in the first five weeks of the season can be a plus for farmers who have had difficulty getting back into their fields because of sporadic rains following planting. But it can also make a difference in the kind of insect pressure a producer faces for the remainder of the season.

“One of the hot topics at this year's Mississippi Entomology Association annual meeting was that plant bugs are getting more and more prevalent,” said Graham. “Anything that delays insecticide applications and protects beneficials could help.”

Farmers say they are seeing a difference in their fields.

“Gaucho held longer than anything else this year in controlling thrips,” said Rusty Wright, a producer from Sledge, Miss. “Where I have root-knot nematode I used 5 pounds of Temik and two shots of Vydate. Where we don't have a nematode problem, I use Gaucho and generally don't have to spray for 20 days after planting.”

“We use Gaucho on everything,” said George Mankin, a grower from Watson, Ark. “Gerald Dean, our consultant, said Gaucho holds as good or better than anything else. This is our second year to use Gaucho. The first year we treated our cotton seed on the turnrow; this year we had Helena treat our seed.”

Mark and Louis Fratesi, who farm near Leland, Miss., said Gaucho helped them reduce foliar applications of insecticides, helped assure their cotton grew off properly and was cheaper and easier to use than alternatives.

Research appears to be backing up those observations.

In a seed treatment demonstration conducted by Angus Catchot, Extension cotton entomologist with Mississippi State University, Gaucho Grande plots were rated at a 1 (on a scale of 1-5) compared to a 1.5 for regular Gaucho, 2 for a competing product and 3.5 for the untreated check at three weeks after planting.

A similar test by Glenn Studebaker, research entomologist at the Northeast Research and Extension Center, Keiser, Ark., put the thrips damage at 1.1 (1 being no damage) for Gaucho and Gaucho Grande vs. 1.4 for a competing product and 2.1 for the untreated four weeks after planting.

Similar findings were reported by Jack Reed, professor of entomology at Mississippi State University, and Gary Lentz, an entomologist with the West Tennessee Experiment station in Jackson, Tenn.

Gaucho Grande also increased yields in research entomologist Gene Burris' plots at the Northeast Research Station, St. Joseph La., and those of entomologist John Ruberson at the University of Georgia Experiment Station at Tipton, Ga.

Researchers have also reported significant activity on western flower thrips from Gaucho Grande. J.R. Bradley, research entomologist at North Carolina State University, conducted a study with caged western flower thrips on cotton that produced 75 percent mortality on adult western flower thrips compared to 47 percent for the same active ingredient of a competing product.

Gaucho Grande was born in response to the major seed companies' move to seed count packaging, according to Hendrix. “In recent years, distributors have played a more active role in seed treatments because growers have been making variety selections later than before.

“Our rate structure was based on an active ingredient per hundredweight, but the seed count can now vary greatly from one variety to the next,” he said. “So we increased the rate of imidacloprid to make the treatments more uniform among the different seed counts.”

The increased rate not only helps make sure farmers receive the proper amount of insecticide in their seed treatment, but it also provides longer protections against thrips and aphids, suppression of plant bugs and control of western flower thrips, said Graham.

We were seeing roadblocks, but we saw that farmers needed added flexibility in protecting their plants,” he noted. “So we went through the roadblocks and came out with a better product for our growers.”