Corn growers can expect refuge-in-a-bag seed within the next few years.

    In order to maintain resistance to corn borer in Bt corn, growers are required to plant 20 percent non-Bt, or refuge, corn. Surveys from earlier in the year show refuge compliance levels have slipped from as high as 80 percent in 2005 to near 60 percent in 2009.

    "We're not fulfilling our mandate as well as we should. So we need to continue with the education of farmers as to why we have to do it and we have to monitor and make sure it's in their best interest to have refuge levels as they should be," says John Cowan, general manager of Hyland Seed, now a division of Dow AgroSciences.

    Hyland plans on releasing refuge-in-a-bag technology for the 2012 growing season. "We will put that surrogate hybrid in the same bag, so that a farmer can buy one bag of seed corn and know that he has his refuge acres and an appropriate hybrid to go with his SmartStax hybrids," says Cowan.

    Dow AgroSciences, through Hyland Seed, will be launching SmartStax corn in Canada in 2011. SmartStax seed is a collaboration between Dow and Monsanto which includes multiple insect protection and herbicide resistance traits. The technology is ground-breaking in that it requires only 5 percent refuge acres as opposed to the 20 percent required for current Bt corn varieties.

~ Monday, September 27, 2010 ~