In the news


Honey bee colony loss hits lowest point in years

The rate of loss among honey bee colonies reached its lowest point in years, which is good news for these vital pollinators.

A report from the Bee Informed Partnership, in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America and the USDA, showed that an estimated 21.1 percent of colonies managed were lost over the 2016-17 winter, representing an improvement of 5.8 percentage points compared to the previous winter and falling well below the 10-year average total winter loss rate of 28.4 percent. The report is based on a survey of nearly 5,000 beekeepers, and it marked the lowest winter loss rate since these surveys began.

“This is terrific news for everyone who cares about bee health,” says Dick Rogers, Principal Scientist and beekeeper for the Bayer Bee Care Program in North America. “As I reported last month, we are not out of the woods, but there is a reason for optimism, given the industry’s commitment to protect these vital pollinators.”

Bayer continues to conduct research into the many factors affecting bee health and supports efforts to improve pollinator nutrition caused by a lack of forage through its Feed a Bee initiative. Bayer is also working closely with many partners to improve bee health, including Project Apis, through its support of the Healthy Hives 2020 initiative.

The news about the colonies is also welcome at this time of year, with National Pollinator Week right around the corner.


EPA approves Syngenta’s Fortenza insecticide for corn and cotton

If above- and below-ground insects such as black cutworm, fall armyworm, white grub, seedcorn maggot, or wireworm are a problem in your corn or cotton fields, a Syngenta insecticide has been approved to help you out.

Fortenza seed treatment insecticide has gotten the green light from the EPA for use on corn and cotton to guard against early-season insect damage.

“We designed Fortenza to complement our brands containing Cruiser insecticide, and data shows combining these products enhances the spectrum of insect control activity, raising the bar of protection for U.S. growers,” said Dale Ireland, Ph.D., Seedcare technical product lead, Syngenta. “This combination will provide the most comprehensive early-season insect protection in the corn seed treatment market.”

In corn particularly, Fortenza seed treatment insecticide is a great tool for growers that have a corn hybrid with black cutworm susceptibility.

Fortenza may also help manage insect resistance, when used in combination with other insecticide chemistries or traits, by providing an additional mode of action against targeted insects.

Image courtesy of Syngenta

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Fall calving may be more feasible in Southeast

Southeast cattle producers may want to consider switching to a fall calving season after seeing this latest research from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA).

Using simulation models based on 19 years of data, UTIA researchers determined that the fall calving season, calving between mid-September and mid-November, was most profitable and had the smallest amount of variation in profits, meaning fall calving was less risky.

This may seem counterintuitive, as spring calving produces heavier calves at weaning and feed costs are lower. The increased profitability of fall-season calving is due to the higher prices the calves can bring at weaning and an increase in calves weaned per cow.

Cattle production in the United States revolves around a production system in which calves are born during the spring months. However, the southeastern United States is uniquely positioned to take advantage of an alternative fall calving season. Longer growing seasons for forages provide southeastern cattle producers a competitive advantage over producers to the north in terms of feed costs.

The longer growing season also provides cattle producers in the Southeast an opportune time to calve cattle prior to extreme winter weather events, allowing beef production and availability to be more easily spread throughout the year.

“A fall calving season is not only beneficial for cattle producers, but it can also be beneficial for consumers,” said Andrew Griffith, assistant professor at UTIA for Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) and research coauthor. “The fall calving season can provide for a more uniform distribution of beef production throughout the year, which reduces storage costs and results in lower costs and a fresher product at the retail level.”

Information from this research, which was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics (vol. 48, issue 3), can help cow-calf producers in Tennessee and other southeastern states as they navigate the complex decision of choosing a calving season. Additional information can be found in the associated UT Extension publication Fall Versus Spring Calving: Considerations and Profitability Comparison.

“While this research indicates possible advantages for fall calving, it is also important to consider the additional costs associated with switching seasons and labor availability in the fall when crops are harvested,” said Chris Boyer, ARE assistant professor and research coauthor.

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