Q: What is Dow AgroSciences Refuge Advanced® powered by SmartStax®?
A: Refuge Advanced is a blend of 95% high-yielding SmartStax seed and 5% non-insect-traited seed. It is the first true single-bag solution for refuge management and is the most convenient, simple solution to ensure refuge compliance in the Corn Belt.t
Q: What is refuge-in-the-bag?
A: Refuge-in-the-bag is the common name given for products that mix non-traited seed and traited seed in a single bag.
Q: Why am I required to plant refuge?
A: Bt corn hybrids are genetically modified to contain a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).2 The widespread use of these hybrids has increased the number of acres in which target insect pests are exposed to the active Bt ingredient each season. That’s why insect resistance management (IRM) plans have become so important—they preserve the usefulness of Bt traits.2
Part of an IRM plan is creating separate acres as a “refuge,” or habitat, where target pest insects can feed, mate and reproduce without being exposed to the Bt trait. Without a refuge like this, the target insects would eventually, over a series of generations, develop a resistance to the Bt trait.2
Planting refuge is also required by law if you plant Bt corn. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a protocol in which, at the time of purchase, growers enter into a contract with the company supplying the Bt corn, agreeing to meet certain refuge requirements.
Q: What happens if I don’t plant refuge?
A: The first time a grower is found out of compliance, a warning letter is sent by the company that provided the Bt seed, followed by an IRM compliance assessment the next year. If a grower fails to follow refuge requirements two years in a row, they will be denied access to Bt corn the third year. These requirements were further tightened in 2011, increasing the probability that growers can lose access to Bt corn if compliance is not met and maintained.
Q: Why does Refuge Advanced require fewer refuge acres than traditional Bt hybrids?
A: Refuge Advanced is powered by SmartStax, which produces multiple Bt proteins against key pests. That means insects are less likely to develop resistance to the trait combination, allowing growers to plant a reduced refuge of as little as 5% (depending on geography and local pest pressure).
Q: How does a lower refuge requirement impact my yield potential?
A: Refuge acres tend to yield far fewer bushels (feedback indicates anywhere from 10-20 bu./acre less).3 So when growers can lower the number of refuge acres from the traditional 20% to 5% with Dow AgroSciences Refuge Advanced® powered by SmartStax®, they decrease their overall refuge acres by 75%.
Q: Will Refuge Advanced be available for the upcoming season?
A: Yes, Refuge Advanced is ready for the upcoming season. Like any new product, its supply is limited.
Q: What Refuge Advanced hybrids does Pfister have available?
A:We have several Refuge Advanced hybrids available for the upcoming season, including:
1In cotton-growing regions, a separate 20% structured refuge is still required for Refuge Advanced.
2Cullen, E., Proost, R. and Volenberg, D. 2008. “Insect Resistance Management and Refuge Requirements for Bt Corn.”
3Grooms, L. 2009. “Refuge reduced.” Farm Industry News. Available online at www.farmindustrynews.com/bt/refuge-reduced.