How to Manage Infection & Risk of Northern Corn Leaf Blight

how to manage infection risk of northern corn leaf blight

Is Northern Corn Leaf Blight Affecting You?

Have you scouted for disease lately? Early reports suggest you may be at risk from northern corn leaf blight (NCLB). Due to high innoculum carryover from last season, symptoms are emerging earlier than normal.

No-Till Farmer reports that increased levels of NCLB are likely in 2016, stemming from two factors:
-Wet spring conditions and mild winters from El Niño
-Conservation tillage increasing soil inoculum levels

Seed choice can also play an important role with high-yielding hybrid varieties showing increased risk from NCLB due to lack of resistance.

Wet and Humid Conditions Encourage NCLB
  • Temperatures of 64 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Six to eight hours of water on leaf surfaces
  • Scout for oblong lesions shaped like a cigar
  • Lesions will be grayish-green or tan in color

Given current scouting reports, a NCLB outbreak is likely to occur this year.

According to Ohio State University, heavy infestations of NCLB can reduce yields by nearly 50 percent. The potential for losses in 2016 could be devastating.

For more information on NCLB, refer to the links below:

Manage Risks Proactively to Stop NCLB

To effectively manage your risks, it’s important to ensure you have a strong plan in place, especially now that NCLB is likely a threat to your crops this season.

“I know growers in our area who didn’t spray for the disease last year saw anywhere from 30 to 40 bu/A losses”
- Phil Kiefer, central Illinois.

Phil Kiefer, a corn producer from central Illinois, says he experienced NCLB last year. “Last year, we had areas that got 26 to 34 inches of rain making northern corn leaf blight a gigantic problem in our area, especially for people using a lot of hybrids that weren’t resistant to the disease.”

Kiefer typically scouts weekly to keep a close tab on any new infections that could show up. “We always budget for corn fungicides. We’ve been using Stratego YLD on our corn for quite a few years now. It does a great job in cleaning up diseases like northern corn leaf blight and common rust.”

Kiefer added that disease pressure was so severe in 2015 that he made a second fungicide application. He said that application made a 20 bu/A yield difference in his own on-farm side-by-side comparisons.

Randy Myers, PH.D.“The higher level of active ingredient will give you better plant activity and longer residual control ...”

- Randy Myers, PH.D.
  Product Development Manager, Bayer

How can I handle NCLB pressure this season?

Northern Corn Leaf Blight chart
Randy Myers, fungicides product manager from Bayer said, “When pressure stays high and symptoms are present, Bayer recommends growers apply Stratego YLD at a 4 to 5 oz/A rate. The higher level of active ingredient will give you better plant activity and longer residual control against NCLB.”

In trial studies, when used at a 4 to 5 oz/A rate, Stratego YLD performed extremely well against NCLB, reducing the disease severity on average more than 70 percent.

When margins are tight, protect your profits. Be proactive and prevent loss from northern corn leaf blight this season. 

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