But he cautions producers not to become complacent and noted that Iowa corn farmers have detected some corn rootworm resistance to transgenic corn. The resistance has been to the single CryBb1 toxin. “We need to be diligent in avoiding the development of insect resistance,” he said. “We need to adapt some of the same strategies we use for avoiding weed resistance and apply them to insect control. This means rotating corn hybrids with different modes-of-action for controlling a particular insect or use hybrids that are stacked (pyramided) with multiple modes of action.

“But more technology means more cost, so farmers should ask themselves which traits they really need. That will depend on rotation and field conditions.”

He said more transgenic traits are coming, including hybrids with improved nitrogen efficiency. “Everyone is working on it,” he said. “The latest projection indicates 2018 as the earliest release date.”

Hybrids with improved nitrogen use efficiency, Bean said, would boost yields under normal growing conditions and stabilize yields in less than normal conditions. “It will be interesting to see how that works.”

He said seed companies have recently released their first-generation drought-tolerant hybrids. “That will be an important factor for Blacklands farmers and dryland corn,” he said. “Plants will still require water.” But drought-tolerant hybrids may suffer less yield loss under moisture stress than conventional hybrids.

Bean said Pioneer has AquaMax; Syngenta has Artesian; and Monsanto has DroughtGard hybrids with drought tolerance. Monsanto’s selections are transgenic; Syngenta and Pioneer drought tolerant hybrids are from conventional breeding programs.

Bean said Texas AgriLife 2011 tests showed drought tolerant hybrids “generally performed better than conventional corn when stressed.” Plant population also affects response. These new drought tolerant hybrids may very well require a higher plant population than what farmers are used to planting.

Bean also commented on a new option for weed control in grain sorghum.

“Huskie herbicide from Bayer is the best product I’ve seen on broadleaf weed control in 30 years,” he said.

Trials have shown 95 percent control of pigweed and nearly 100 percent control with the addition of a half-pound of atrazine. “Even with bigger pigweed, up to 15 inches, we’ve seen 85 percent control,” he said.

Crop safety, Bean said, is also good. “Farmers may see some speckling or burning on the leaves but sorghum grows out of it very quickly.”

 “Also, let sorghum get to a 4-inch to 6-inch height before applying.”

Bean said the cost of the herbicide is approximately $9 to $10 per acre. He encourages farmers to try it. “I’d also recommend adding a half-pound of atrazine, especially to larger weeds and to add a little soil residual,” he said.