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FP Next

Tune in as Farm Progress editors Curt Arens and Sarah McNaughton dive into all aspects of the agriculture industry from the field to the feedlot, and pasture to policy.

Dakota Farmer

FP Next: The rise of tar spot, with Mindy Ward

Episode 3: Learn how to prevent and treat tar spot in cornfields in this Shop Talk session.

26 Min Listen

Tar spot is a fungal disease that affects corn by primarily infecting and damaging leaves. Preferring cooler temperatures and high humidity, the disease has spread rapidly across the nation since its introduction in 2015.

Mindy Ward, an executive editor at Farm Progress and editor of Missouri Ruralist, covers the spread of this disease throughout the Midwest and beyond. In this Shop Talk edition of FP Next, we quiz Ward on the spread of tar spot and learn more about how she is covering the expansion of the disease across the Midwest.

Do farmers who irrigate cornfields have a higher risk of this disease? What types of yield losses happen with affected corn? When should you apply fungicide for the best protection?

Ward talks about her family developed a sheep show in Missouri, which draws exhibitors from coast to coast.

Learn the answers to your tar spot questions and more in this episode. You can also read Ward’s story on tar spot spreading across Missouri and check out the corn disease tracker.

About the Author(s)

Sarah McNaughton

Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress

Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.

McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.

She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.

In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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