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Tassel time fungicide applications for tar spot

A Nebraska producer has not confirmed tar spot in his area yet, but it is one of his biggest concerns.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

May 1, 2024

2 Min Read
closeup of cornstalks
CORN WATCH: Tar spot and stalk diseases are among the challenges corn farmers face. One agronomist suggests that tassel time fungicide applications can help thwart the potential for tar spot injury. Curt Arens

If you are a corn producer, you have been barraged with information about the spread of tar spot throughout corn country.

These two little words — tar spot — are injecting fear into any farmer raising corn, even in locations where it hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Ben Heath raises irrigated corn — yellow, white and seed corn — on his farm near Geneva, Neb. Heath says that he is worried about tar spot moving into his area.

“To this point, we have been able to control diseases in corn fairly well with the current products on the market, and a VT fungicide application alone,” he says.

“Irrigation will help create conditions that promote tar spot development,” Syngenta agronomist Travis Gustafson says. “I would not alter irrigation scheduling on corn for tar spot management, as that could do more harm than good. As of right now, I still like the fungicide application at tassel time for tar spot. We have seen great performance from premium fungicides, like Miravis Neo, on tar spot when it is applied at tassel time, and we can make follow-up applications if necessary.”

Keep watch

This upcoming growing season will most likely see low pressure for tar spot across western Corn Belt locations such as Nebraska, Gustafson says.

“I would not make many major changes from our typical fungicide plans,” he says. “But if producers are not normally making fungicide applications to their corn crop, 2024 will be the year for them to consider fungicides because of tar spot.”

Related:Beat soybean diseases to the punch

UNL - Tar spot on corn leaf

Heath, who utilizes a combination of ridge till, strip till and vertical tillage — depending on the field — did not witness tar spot or any major disease problems in corn late season last year because of the hot and dry climate.

“Crown rot and stalk rot from early-season infection were the biggest concerns in corn in 2023,” he adds.

“We continue to trial fungicides in furrow, coupled with hybrid management to alleviate as many stalk diseases as possible,” Heath says. And he continues to be on the watch for tar spot in his region.

Read more about:

Tar Spot

About the Author(s)

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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