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Farmers excited about ability to bump yield potential.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

March 18, 2007

3 Min Read

From Ohio to Nebraska farmers are paying attention to reports of success with foliar-applied corn herbicides. Headline and Quilt are two of the products that have been tried most often so far. The problem for those who tend to be harder to convince when a new practice comes along is that there is precious little scientific, university-style evidence available from third-party sources so far.

Greg Shaner, Purdue University plant pathologist, updated farmers in Hendricks County last week about the status of using fungicides on corn in Indiana. Basically, he has very little solid scientific trials to base recommendations upon, he says. Instead, most of the reports are anecdotal, meaning they’re either farmer observations from harvesting corn where fungicide was sprayed, or they’re from farmer trials which were not replicated.

One central Indiana farmer isn’t waiting for university-style proof. He tried it on a field last year and is convinced that it paid off in several extra bushels per acre, far more than necessary to cover costs of the product and application. But not everyone reports such glowing results.

Tim Sickman, of Miles Enterprises, Owensboro, Ky., says corn fungicides are beginning to show up well in their field trials. Although Miles is a commercial company, they conduct extensive test plots in Kentucky, southern Indiana and other areas each year. Sickman is actually a member of the Opti-Crop team, charged with training agronomists and imparting knowledge to farmers, instead of directly selling products.

One reason for positive results in the Ohio River Valley area may be the prominence of leaf diseases there, Sickman notes. The area tends to support higher humidity levels in the summer. Such conditions are typically more favorable to many of the leaf diseases which fungicides are supposed to reduce or eliminate.

Dave Nanda, long-time plant breeder, sees enough potential to want to try fungicide applications on corn on replicated plots he’s assisting with this summer. Nanda, now president of Bird Hybrids, LLC, Tiffin, Ohio, is also a consultant on the Corn Illustrated Plots that will be conducted this summer by Indiana Prairie Farmer. Plans call for including fungicide or no fungicide as one of the variables in a high-yield, replicated trial on the Jim Facemrie Farm near Edinburgh this summer.

Two problems exist in getting effective control, Nanda suggests. The first is timing. While Sickman and others say the jury is still out on exact timing of application, it appears to be around tasseling time.

That leads to the second issue- how to apply the fungicide. Choices boil down to application with a high-clearance sprayer, if one is available, or aerial application. One commercial grower in Nebraska says he will opt for commercial application this summer, and is going with the fungicide application on irrigated corn instead of bumping planting population past 30,000 seeds per acre.

Aerial application can be difficult in plot situations, especially if effort is made to replicate the plots, and randomize treatments within the plots. Aerial applicators are skilled, but pinpoint accuracy needed in plot situations is likely beyond their reach.

Expect to hear more about fungicides for corn as this season unfolds.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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