One of Brian Bush's jobs is to note how well hybrids handle disease. He also recommends which new hybrids to put into the line-up. Bush is a product agronomist for DuPont Pioneer in Indiana.
He believes there could be extra disease pressure this year if the weather remains as it has to start the season.
"If it stays on the cool side with moisture it may be a year for northern corn leaf blight," he says.
If it gets warmer and more humid, it may favor gray leaf spot. Both can be tough diseases to handle. Fortunately, most hybrids have better resistance or at least tolerance to these diseases than in the past.
Plant breeders for all companies constantly look for good disease tolerance or resistance to incorporate into new products, he says. At one time some, of the highest yielding hybrids were susceptible to one or more diseases. If the disease wasn't a threat, the hybrid excelled. If the disease had a good year, the hybrid didn't have such a good year.
Today, however, there are fewer susceptible hybrids that could get nailed hard by any one disease, he notes. Still, if the weather remains favorable to diseases, he recommends scouting. That will be the best way to decide whether you need a fungicide or not, Bush notes.
In 2012 some sprayed fungicides, but in most areas it was too dry for diseases to develop anyway, Bush says. Many diseases prefer humidity and early morning dews. That pattern was setting up last week. If it continues, diseases could get an early start and have a foothold by the time you need to decide whether to spray a fungicide or not.
By the same token, they may also stop growing if the weather shifts to a drier pattern. That's why scouting on a regular basis is so important, he concludes.