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Poncho® Beta Grows Sugarbeet Harvest, Shrinks Planting Time

13 February 2012

US – Jeff Whelan of J.J. Whelan & Sons has been growing sugarbeets for nearly 37 years. He first became interested in agriculture while still in high school, when he asked his father to help him buy some American Crystal Sugar Company stock.

Whelan has come a long way since his entrepreneurial beginnings, and is now growing 700 acres of sugarbeets on his farm near Crystal, N.D., where he also harvests red potatoes, hard red spring wheat, edible beans and soybeans.

In 2009, after talking with his fellow growers, Whelan first became aware of Bayer CropScience’s Poncho Beta high-performance seed treatment. He was intrigued to learn how this product – which is applied to the individual sugarbeet seeds – combines different modes of action to provide broader spectrum and higher levels of sugarbeet protection compared to untreated seeds. Questioning the benefits of this seed treatment, Whelan first talked to his fieldman about the product, and then agreed to participate in a strip trial through American Crystal Sugar Company. And, since that time, he has been using Poncho Beta on his sugarbeet seeds.

“Since we began ordering our seed with Poncho Beta, one of the major benefits has been better emergence rates for our sugarbeet seedlings,” said Whelan. “In our area, we see a lot of damage from sugarbeet root maggots, and, before Poncho Beta, we used a competitor’s insecticide to protect our emerging sugarbeets from these pests. Unfortunately, while this helped control the sugarbeet root maggots, some properties of the product also took a heavy toll on the young plants. Using Poncho Beta has all but eliminated this problem.”

In addition to the higher sugarbeet emergence rates, Whelan also has been impressed with how Poncho Beta has streamlined his planting process.

“What I like about Poncho Beta is the convenience of having the insecticide right on the seed,” he said. “The convenience of the seed treatment also is beneficial from a safety perspective, because there isn’t a chance that the product will blow onto your employees or spill out in the field. At planting time, you just load your seeds into the hopper and begin planting seeds.”

Poncho Beta contains a unique combination of a systemic insecticide, clothianidin, and a contact insecticide, beta-cyfluthrin, for extended, early-season soil and foliar insect protection. In addition to providing protection against sugarbeet root maggots, Poncho Beta protects seeds and seedlings against injury by wireworms, cutworms, beet leafhopper (a vector for the transmission of beet curly top virus), leafminers, flea beetles, black bean aphids and subterranean springtails. In areas where high root maggot pressure occurs, adding a post-emergence foliar insecticide application at peak fly to Poncho Beta-treated plants can improve protection.

Ultimately, Whelan has been sufficiently impressed with Poncho Beta’s benefits, both in terms of its protection against sugarbeet root maggot – used with a post-emergence foliar insecticide if needed – and its ease of use at planting time. He plans to continue using it on his sugarbeet seeds moving forward.

“For me, Poncho Beta has done what Bayer CropScience said it would, and has been both effective and safe to use,” he said. “That’s why we have ordered the majority of our sugarbeet seed for the 2012 growing season with Poncho Beta.”

TheCropSite News Desk

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