Last week I had the opportunity to attend the 21st Annual Texas Plant Protection Conference in College Station in which a number of excellent presentations were made regarding new Agricultural technologies that are emerging that will help make our farmers and ranchers even better at what they do, producing the safest, and cheapest food supply in the world. I will highlight only a few of the sessions that I attended that will have local implications in this column.

We all know that under stressful growing conditions here with corn, we can have problems with Aflatoxin. To a grower, high levels of aflatoxin may limit access to high value markets and result in significant discounts and losses in profitability. A new product has been introduced by Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. which is a biological control tool to help manage levels of aflatoxin in corn called Afla-Guardtm. The Afla-Guard, is a non-toxigenic strain of A. flavus, which completely displaces the toxigenic strains of A flavus, thereby reducing the potential production and presence of aflatoxin in the crop. In trials conducted in the last couple of years with this product, results have shown that aflatoxin levels have been reduced on average by 85%, regardless of the level of the contamination by the toxigenic strain.

Herbicide resistant sorghum will present new opportunities to manage weeds in the future. Thanks to a project that was started back in 2003 at Kansas State and Purdue University, we are getting very close to having commercial grain sorghum that has tolerance to ALS - and ACC inhibiting herbicides. The development of this technology will allow for more effective postemergence grass control for sorghum producers and improve crop rotation and replant options. The resistant genes for the ALS - and ACC - inhibitors were identified in wild sorghum and transferred to grain sorghum hybrids. Since this is a conventional trait, this sorghum crop with this technology will not be classified as a GMO crop. DuPont Crop Protection has acquired exclusive commercial rights to develop the non-GMO sulfonylurea and quizalofop herbicide tolerance traits in sorghum and to the use of chemistries enabled by those traits. DuPont Crop Protection will license these herbicide tolerance traits to interested sorghum seed companies. The projected launch date for this new technology will be 2012 to 2013.

The BASF Corporation is releasing a new family of herbicides called "Kixor." This family of herbicides will have application on a wide range of crops and is effective on more than 70 broadleaf weeds. This new herbicide inhibits a key step in chlorophyll biosynthesies, which results in fast and effective control of broadleaf weeds. Sharpentm will be the herbicide labeled for many crops including cotton and grain sorghum.

Coming out of a drought, there will be many weeds in our pastures next spring. To help with this problem, a new herbicide, Pastora, by DuPont Crop Protection will be a new tool that can help address those grassy weeds like sandbur, Johnsongrass, barnyard grass, foxtails, and Little Barley. There are also many broadleaf weeds that is product will work on as well. A crisis exemption was granted this year in Texas for this product and plans are to have it available next year as well.

A new cotton technology called GlyToltm from Bayer CropScience has been developed as a glyphosate tolerant technology. Contingent upon regulatory approvals, GlyTol cotton is planned for commercial release in 2010. GlyTol plus Liberty Link cotton is also planned for release next year. A stacked Bt product TwinLinktm is being developed that expresses both the cry1 and cry2 genes and is planned for release in 2012.

More information about many of these new technologies will be shared at a local Crop Symposium on January 22 at the AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Corpus Christi.

The information herein is for informational purposes only.

Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service is implied.

Jeffrey Stapper is the Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent for Nueces County. Readers may contact him at 767-5217.