Growers, consultants, Extension working to bring back Transform

Growers and consultants working to keep Transform 'in the system' for controlling pests in cotton, grain sorghum. (Click on Farmcast icon for interview with Phil Jost and Hank Jones.

It’s taken a lot of work by university entomologists and state department of agriculture employees, but cotton and grain sorghum producers will have Transform WG insecticide as an option under Section 18 emergency exemptions in 2017.

Dow AgroSciences, the product registrant, announced today (May 4) that eight states have received emergency exemptions for use of sulfoxaflor or Transform in cotton and 12 states emergency exemptions for applying the product in sorghum.

This is the second year the states have had to seek emergency exemptions to make sure their cotton and sorghum growers could use the products after EPA canceled the Section 3 FIFRA registrations for the product following a court ruling in 2015. This year’s process was easier than last.

“When EPA granted those Section 18s (in 2016), they made them eligible for what is called a stream-lined review,” says Phil Jost, Dow AgroSciences portfolio marketing leader, U.S. Crop Protection Insecticides. “We’ve had several Section 18s approved, and we’re starting to get back in the game for this year.” (To hear and interview with Phil Jost and consultant Hank Jones, click on the Farmcast icon.)

Jost said states receiving a Section 18 exemption in cotton include: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas. Those with a Section 18 exemption in sorghum include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

Limited label for crops

“The other thing that has happened is that EPA has re-established the registration of Transform for limited uses on limited crops,” said Jost. “Cotton and grain sorghum are not on that label so we still have to go through the Section 18 process.”

Jost said Dow AgroSciences anticipates having sufficient product on hand for meeting the anticipated increase in cotton acres in the Mid-South and parts of the Southeast and the Southwest in 2017.

Those developments are good news for consultants like Hank Jones, who works with RHJ Ag Services in Winnsboro, La. Jones was interviewed along with Jost during a Dow AgroSciences Media Event at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show in Memphis, Tenn.

Jones, who mostly works in the northeast parishes of Louisiana, said Transform has become the cornerstone of his growers’ efforts to keep damaging insect pests at bay, especially in cotton.

“My group of farmers, especially my cotton farmers, has never watched a product go through this process more closely than they’ve watched Transform,” he said. “Transform is that important to us – we have to have this product to be profitable in cotton.”

Talking to EPA

Jones said consultants and growers in his region have conveyed that message to EPA, telling agency officials they must have the product to be able to control plants bugs in cotton economically.

“We spray less when we get to use this product,” Jones noted. “If you take that out of our system you’re looking at adding three or four more insecticide sprayings to the program. Those will be of harsher chemistries that could potentially lead to other insect and spider mite pests that you flare when you move into organophosphates or pyrethroids.”

Without access to Transform, growers would use a wide range of insecticides. “You’re looking at neonicotinoids; some people are using imidacloprid, some people are using Centric, we use a lot of Diamond in the system. Then you’re looking at your heavy hitters like acephate, Bidrin and tank mixes of those products with a pyrethroid.”

The latter have a larger environmental footprint – and a bigger impact on beneficial insects – than more benign pesticides such as Transform.

“That’s the beauty of a product like Transform,” he said. “We don’t have to worry so much about what’s going to happen to secondary pests like spider mites two seeks after we put out Transform.

Spider mites a ‘budget breaker’

“I’m killing aphids and plant bugs. I’m going to get a good residual out of it. I can trust what’s happening, and I’m not worrying about whether I’m flaring spider mites with that treatment that will cost me $20 an acre two weeks later. That’s a budget breaker when you’re having to control plant bugs and spider mites.”

Much of what growers do from pinhead square to when they stop insecticide applications these days is “predicated on having Transform in the system,” says Jones.

Jost said Dow AgroSciences is working with EPA officials to get the data needed as a result of the 2015 federal court ruling in California that led to the cancellation of sulfoxaflor’s Section 3 registration.

“It is our anticipation we will return the cotton and sorghum labels to what they were before the court ruling at some point in the near future,” he noted. “It is difficult to put a timeframe on that, but we are working diligently with EPA to make that happen.”

Jost said he wanted to emphasize another important part of the ongoing effort. “We can only do this because growers and folks such as Hank recognize what Transform is bringing to the table. When you get these Section 18s that starts at the ground up. There is a need that’s identified. That is something EPA is aware of, and that’s why these Section 18s are being granted.”

Grateful for Section 18s

Jost said Dow AgroSciences is grateful EPA approved the Section 18 emergency use exemptions for both crops. “The action demonstrates that EPA has listened to growers, consultants and university Extension experts and now recognizes the most valuable role Transform plays in effectively controlling these devastating pests.

“We join with our customers and independent third-party supporters in applauding EPA for granting the emergency use exemptions. All stakeholders are breathing a collective sigh of relief as we gear up for the 2017 crop production year.”

To learn more about the application of Transform in cotton and sorghum, visit TransformMyCotton.com and TransformMySorghum.com.

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