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If you’re after top yields, consider applying fungicides, even when crop prices are low.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

May 14, 2020

3 Min Read
gray leaf spot lesions on corn leaf
SCOUT AND BE READY: Scout for signs of gray leaf spot (pictured) and other corn diseases, especially if you know hybrids may be susceptible.Tom J. Bechman

An aging college professor used this analogy to explain how he got himself psyched up for classes each fall. “It’s like when they pulled fire wagons with horses,” he explained. “The horse may have been old, but when that fire bell clanged, his ears perked up, and he jumped up and was ready to go.”

Crop prices are very low. Yet when skies cleared, soils dried out and temperatures warmed up, farmers were ready to go after top yields again.

“I get wound up in agronomics more than economics, but it seemed like farmers were excited and somewhat optimistic to get back in the field this spring,” says Kyle Quick, a commercial agronomist for Mycogen Seeds. He covers three-fourths of Indiana, including the northern half of the state, plus southeastern Indiana.

“Farmers believe it’s important to go for top yields and pull as much off their land as possible,” he says. “The top end is where the profit is. I don’t see them cutting back on inputs, even later in the season — unless we run into a dry stretch, and it’s obvious they won’t capture top yields.”

Fungicide decisions

One input that can impact yield in both soybeans and corn is fungicide.

Soybeans. By midseason or before, growers will need to decide whether to apply fungicides on soybeans. “It’s becoming more popular to apply fungicides on soybeans, especially in regional areas,” Quick says. “One thing guys are after is whatever they can do to lessen stress and hold on to more flowers and pods to kick up yields.”

Frogeye leaf spot is the disease that seems to be becoming more apparent of late, he notes. According to the Purdue University Corn & Soybean Field Guide, warm, humid weather favors the disease. Several fungicides can be effective against this disease.

The key to success with soybean fungicides seems to be applying them at the correct time. “We suggest applying them in that R2 to R4 reproductive window,” Quick says. “Soybeans are flowering and beginning to put on pods.

“I probably lean toward the R3 to R4 stage. That’s a really important time for soybeans, and an important time to protect yield potential.”

Corn. The two most common disease threats to corn yield in this part of the Corn Belt are gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight, Quick says. “Northern corn leaf blight tends to show up more in cooler conditions,” he says, “but there have been situations where both have caused problems somewhere in the state in the same season.

“Our plant breeders have worked hard to develop resistance to these two diseases because they are so prevalent. You need to know the disease resistance of each hybrid in each field. But you still need to scout for signs of disease.”

Fungicide applications usually go on around tasseling or the R1 stage in corn, Quick says. Growers need to know what’s happening in the field, especially if they know a hybrid is susceptible, so they can schedule fungicide applications, if needed.

Tar spot is a relatively new diseases that has moved into northern and northwestern Indiana. “Be watching for it and be ready to spray, if necessary,” he says. “It could take more than one application where it’s most severe.”

Mycogen has hybrids with tolerance or resistance to tar spot in the pipeline, but it takes time to make sure they’re ready for the field, he concludes.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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