New options to consider

It wasn’t too long ago when vegetable growers had few pest management options to pick from. A few insecticides were labeled for preplant broadcast or at-plant application, and the majority of the insecticides were labeled for multiple foliar applications postemergence through the season.

Treated bean seed.
Photo by A. Taylor.

However, during the past few years, many new chemistry insecticides have been labeled that allow growers a wide variety of application flexibility and options for effective pest control, including seed treatments, preplant, at-plant, post-plant and postemergence applications.

Seed treatments

Seed treatments optimize crop protection with minimum impact on nontarget species and maximum protection of key environmental resources, and provide control comparable to that of conventional application technology. There is no pesticide drift, they lower the negative impact on natural enemies, they enhance worker safety, and they significantly reduce the pesticide load in the environment. Dr. Alan Taylor, a seed treatment expert at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, estimates that up to 90 percent less insecticide is applied as seed treatments compared to in-furrow treatments for similar insect pest control in onions. The first seed treatments were designed primarily for protection of the seed against soil insect pests, such as maggots and wireworms. Today’s systemic seed treatments, however, also include protection against early foliar insect pests such as aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, potato beetles, leafhoppers, leaf miners, thrips, whiteflies and others, as well as protection against soil insect pests.

Currently, seed treatments are available as direct seed application, planter-box treatments and as commercially treated seed.

Direct treatment to the seed: Belay (clothianidin) can be applied directly to cut or whole potato seed tubers. Cruiser5FS, containing thiamethoxam, can be applied to potato tubers, cucurbits, legume vegetables and corn using standard slurry seed treatment equipment, which provides uniform coverage.

Planter-box treatments: Latitude (imidacloprid), Concur (imidacloprid) and Kernel Guard Supreme (permethrin plus carboxin) are available as hopper-box treatments for sweet corn, field corn and popcorn.

Commercially applied seed treatments: Lorsban 50W (chlorpyrifos), Cruiser 5FS (thiamethoxam), Gaucho (imidacloprid) and Poncho (clothianidin) are available as commercially treated seed for various vegetable crops. Syngenta Seed Care has recently announced the availability of FarMore Technology, a seed-treatment insecticide (thiamethoxam) with fungicides, for small seeded vegetable crops. Bayer CropScience announced in 2009 that Sepresto (imidacloprid + clothianidin) would be labeled for use on cucurbits and possibly other vegetable seed.

Growers can expect to see more insecticide baits labeled in the near future. Dow AgroSciences recently marketed GF-120 NF Naturalyte (spinosad) as a bait formulation for fruit flies in many crops, including asparagus, cole crops, sweet corn, cucurbit crops, fruiting crops (tomatoes, etc.), herbs, leafy vegetables, legume vegetables, and sweet and white potatoes.

Flexible soil applications

Nearly all of the recently labeled neonicotines—imidacloprid (Admire PRO), clothianidin (Belay), dinotefuran (Venom), thiamethoxam (Platinum), and thiamethoxam + chlorantraniliprole (Durivo)—as well as chlorantraniliprole (Coragen) have expanded their original label to include a variety of preplant or at-plant application methods for at least one of their formulations. Not only do they still retain a foliar spray and drip irrigation application method, they have included a selection of alternative application methods. These new materials may have directions on the label for 1) narrow banding on the row before planting or transplanting, 2) in-furrow sprays or surface band during seeding or transplanting, 3) transplant water treatment or hill drench, 4) post-seeding or post-transplant drench, or 5) a subsurface side-dress to each side of the row, a rootzone or soil shank injection at or after planting or crop establishment. The Belay label (for potatoes only) also includes the unique applications of broadcast spray to the soil during hilling or a broadcast spray band at cracking.

These options, as well as the available seed treatment options, give growers many choices for pest control methods and allow flexibility with application methods. With so many options, remember that planning ahead with the correct materials and application method(s) is still critical to an effective pest management program .

Dr. Gerald M. Ghidiu is a professor in the entomology department at Rutgers University, working at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Bridgeton, N.J. He has worked since 1980 as an extension specialist in vegetable entomology.