The timetable for the Temik phase-out, announced by Bayer CropScience last summer, has hit hyper drive following a Bayer announcement last week that production of the insecticide/nematicide has been halted.
“We have fast-forwarded four or five years,” says Texas AgriLife Extension plant pathologist Jason Woodward. “It was bad enough when we had time to evaluate options. We thought 2014 would be when they would stop manufacturing Temik and stop selling it in 2016. In 2018, use would stop.”
After the recent announcement, “it is essentially 2018 now,” he says.
Some product will be available this year, but much of the product may not be available to Texas producers. “It may show up on inventory as being here,” Woodward says, “but much of it may be committed elsewhere.”
He says losing Temik puts a damper on early-season nematode control. “We will lose some convenience. And we lose efficiency for producers who applied Temik for thrips and nematodes.”
The situation is worse for farmers with Root-knot nematode infestations.
Growers have options for thrips, including various seed treatments and foliar products. “We have far fewer options for nematodes.”
Woodward and research pathologist Terry Wheeler, both of whom work out of the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Lubbock, say farmers may have alternatives but nothing that will fill the void left by the loss of Temik.
“Our first line of defense will be resistant varieties,” Woodward says. “But seed availability may become an issue.” He says when the industry expected a more gradual phase-out for Temik, they had a little breathing room to consider or develop other options and to build supplies of partially resistant varieties. The sudden shutdown, however, means that seed companies may not have adequate supplies of those varieties.
Currently, farmers may choose from four varieties with some nematode tolerance, including: ST 5458B2F, FM 4288B2F, Phytogen 367 WRF and DPL 174 RF.
Crop rotation is a second option. “In the Southwest, in areas where nematode infestation is a problem in cotton, growers may have the option of rotating with peanuts,” Woodward says. He says peanuts may not equal cotton revenue in the rotation year but will make up the difference with increased cotton yields the next season.
He says nematodes that infect peanuts are not the same as those that damage cotton.
Seed-applied insecticides may be useful for early-season thrips control but “are not capable of filling the void left by Temik. They may have limited utility in light to moderate nematode populations. But they have no utility with heavy nematode pressure.”
Woodward says claims that Bayer dropped Temik in conjunction with releasing Votivo is nonsense. Votivo, a biological control agent, “was never meant to replace Temik,” he says. “It was just poor timing” (and bad luck) that the two events coincided.
He says a combination of products may help growers manage nematode pressure. Seed-applied nematicides, along with products such as Vydate may be helpful. Vydate has been used in the past, as a secondary treatment after Temik runs out. “Temik was always more consistent than other products and was always the cheaper option. But with higher cotton prices, combinations might be feasible.”
He says Telone can be a viable option. “Terry Wheeler and I have evaluated Telone on the Texas High Plains and found that it is efficient. We don’t have as much information on Vapam or K-pam at this time.”
He says they are also looking at variable rate application of Telone to reduce overall costs. “We’re starting research this year. Researchers have evaluated variable rate application of Telone in the Mid-South and the Southeast, developed management zones and treated them accordingly. Distribution of nematodes in the field may be different here, so we are conducting our own trials.”
He recommends that cotton farmers who use Telone leave untreated strips in the fields to evaluate efficacy.
“Also, be skeptical of new chemistry claims. Cotton is big business and pest control in cotton is big business with a lot of money to be made or lost. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“If something was comparable with Temik it would have been on the market already. Temik was around a long time. That’s why it was so economical.”
Woodward says few Texas growers use Temik in peanuts. “They use some off the Caprock and in South Texas and the Rolling Plains. In those areas, crop rotation is a good option.” He says in fields with both the Southern root-knot nematode and the peanut root-knot nematode control decisions will be more difficult.
Finally, Woodward says farmers need to maximize growing conditions for cotton and reduce stress factors as much as possible. He says providing adequate moisture and fertility, along with timely planting helps maintain good plant health and lessens nematode damage.
“Anything that sets the crop back may increase nematode injury. It’s important to get plants to square as quickly as possible.”
Woodward says historically nematodes have been the worst problem for High Plains cotton farmers. “Recently, however, Verticillium wilt has become the worst problem. I expect nematodes to regain the crown within the next few years unless we make significant advancements, which is very unlikely.”
As with nematodes, variety selection is the first line of defense for Veticillium wilt and Fusarium wilt. “But farmers have to know which wilt they have to select the proper variety. Then, they can develop a management strategy.”
He says Verticillium is more widespread. No effective fungicide is available for either wilt but “we’ve seen some promising options in the lab for Fusarium.”
Crop rotation is a good option for wilt control. “But our options are limited,” Woodward says. “If farmers can initiate a grain rotation prior to the onset of a wilt problem they can see more benefit than if the field already has serious infestations. With a severe wilt problem, farmers will need multiple years of grain production to see a benefit.”