Fungicide Could Be Next Big Call

We’ll be scouting plots closely as tasseling approaches.

Published on: Jul 14, 2008

If phone calls received this week are any indication, many of you are wrestling with the same decisions we are with the Corn Illustrated plots, located near Edinburgh, Ind. Will we need to apply fungicide? How soon should we book fungicide and a custom applicator, either to apply over the top or by air?

Dealers are apparently putting on the pressure in some areas for farmers to buy product, and understandably so. They can’t obtain product and get it where it needs all in a couple days, if everyone decided at once they need fungicide on corn, or on soybeans. Yet after marginal benefits last year, some farmers are reluctant to book too far ahead.

However, this year and last year are flip-flop seasons, at least so far, especially in the central Midwest. Last year featured lots of dry air and a dry pattern over he Eastern Corn Belt. Such a pattern doesn’t favor diseases development, especially early in the season. The later foliar disease comes in, the less the odds that the disease will do significant yield damage.

In Corn Illustrated High Yield plots in ’07, Dave Nanda, Corn Illustrated consultant and president of Bird Hybrids, Tiffin, Ohio, suggested treating part of the field with fungicide, including fungicide as a variable. “If we had been basing the decision on need when we applied it, and hadn’t planned to do it already, we likely wouldn’t have applied it a year ago,” he notes.

Custom application was made during the second week of July on different hybrids, ith a high-clearance ground unit. One hybrid may have shown a slight benefit from the fungicide application, but results were inconclusive. Hybrid differences can be a significant factor, Nanda notes. He expects that fungicides would help most on hybrids that are more susceptible to leaf diseases.

This year no fungicide application is planned as a variable in the plots. However, the decision was made in planning the high-yield plot to attempt to apply fungicide if it was deemed necessary. After working in other Corn Illustrated plots planted at a similar time last week, Nanda instructed Jim Facemire, the farmer, to be ready in case an application is necessary,.

Nanda found signs of anthracnose leaf blight, rust and northern corn leaf blight in the knee to waist-high corn last week. Others reporting in report finding rust and northern corn leaf blight as well. Although it’s not a concern yet, it could be if weather conditions favor disease development as pollination approaches.

The trick is getting the application applied in time. Some agronomists contend it’s difficult to wait and scout for it, find it, then line up an applicator and product, and get the application made before the disease causes damage. That’s the sticky wicket position dealers and applicators don’t want to be in- everybody wanting fungicide applied at once- right now!

The Corn Illustrated plots, except for the population study, running ahead since it was planted earlier, will likely not reach tasseling for a couple of weeks, late for this part of the Corn Belt. Stay tuned for more reports.