To Spray or Not to Spray? Plan to Make an Annual Fungicide Program

By: Greg Hudec

wheatStripe rust, scab and tan spot have been problems for wheat growers year after year. Implementing an annual fungicide program has allowed growers to produce greater yields while fighting off difficult diseases. Fungicide programs have many benefits, but in low commodity years, growers may question if it’s necessary and profitable. Let’s take a closer look at the value of a fungicide program.

Why Should You Spray?

Committing to an annual fungicide program is vital for high quality grain. Not having an annual fungicide program can lead to disease infected acres, lower yields, reduced grain quality and financial issues.

When Should You Spray?

Fungicide application timing will vary depending on weather conditions and disease severity. In most instances, the best time to spray is at flag leaf through early head emergence.

Recommendations for common disease in the Central High Plains and Northern Plains:

  • For Tan Spot: Apply Absolute Maxx at early application followed up with Prosaro at heading.
  • For Scab: Apply Prosaro at early flowering.
  • For Rust: Apply Absolute Maxx or Prosaro at flag leaf emergence.

For growers in the Northern Plains, be proactive and watch the weather patterns in the Central High Plains like Kansas and Oklahoma. Following weather patterns allow you to see what diseases will be heading North. With prevailing southerly winds, many diseases can be transferred to the Northern Plains that originated in the Central High Plains. 

What Should You Spray?

For an annual application, a common practice is to spray fungicide while spraying fertilizer. This helps combat the early stages of disease growth, especially on a no-till farm. An early application method is geared to help control diseases such as tan spot.

Absolute® Maxx and Prosaro® are great fungicides to combat diseases. Absolute Maxx is effective in controlling stripe rust and other rusts, leaf blight, powdery mildew and tan spot. Prosaro is best used to fight off blotches, rust and fusarium head blight (scab).

Using the correct amount of fungicide is key to controlling disease. Using a reduced rate could reduce overall disease control, resulting in lower yields and a reduction in grain quality.

Where Should You Spray?

From air application to ground application, all fungicides will protect the head and flag leaf. Decide which method works best for your land and for your budget.

  • Aerial Application
    • Advantages: no soil compaction, uniform spray pattern, timeliness and can apply to a larger area than ground application.
    • Disadvantages: possible drift and faster evaporation of droplets.

  • Ground Application
    • Advantages: accuracy, direct spray, and droplets won’t evaporate as fast as aerial.
    • Disadvantages: soil compaction, can’t apply to a large area like aerial and can take a longer time to complete the job.

Implementing an annual fungicide program is a proactive practice that will improve overall plant health, grain quality and maximize yield potential. Planning to make a program will enable you get the most out of your crop year after year.

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