Fungicide Use

Like so many things in farming, disease control and planning crop inputs are anything but simple. Disease appearances can be deceiving with some often confused for another. We asked a few university researchers to help explain identification of some common diseases (see videos below).

Fungicide Use

A common misperception is that fungicides are helpful only if disease is present in the crop. That’s actually not the case. A recent and growing trend, particularly in corn, is the use of fungicides early in the season. This practice has been shown to actually improve yields.

In addition to the traditional fungicide application timing for corn between the VT and R2 growth stages, many growers are now realizing the benefits of treating the crop between V4 and V7, both with and without subsequent fungicide sprays. During this time, corn plants go through critical changes that affect how much of the yield potential will be achieved. Having to secure all of their own nutrients and resources for the first time, plants are very susceptible to environmental stresses and diseases. Applying a fungicide such as Stratego YLD at this phase is not only convenient, but it also offers early season disease control and more complete plant coverage.

In short, early season fungicide application can benefit corn in the following ways:

  • Protection of young plants against Anthracnose leaf blight and eyespot, among other diseases
  • Improved stalk strength with reduced risk of lodging and green snap for better harvestability
  • Greener plants with a better window of grain fill
  • Higher yields result from early season application when combined with a tassel spray than from a tassel spray alone

Of course, it all comes down to the ROI. Will the earlier fungicide application improve yield enough to more than pay for the cost of product and labor?

You don’t have to run the numbers on your own to determine which fungicide program will deliver the greatest return on your investment. This calculator will help you decide the type of fungicide applications that will provide the best returns for your corn and soybean operations.

Tamra Jackson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension plant pathologist, advises on how you can identify diseases in field corn.

Allison Robertson, Iowa State University Extension plant pathologist, describes the stages of Anthracnose leaf blight.

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