Corn School: Fungicide strategies for managing crop variability

BASF agronomist Ken Currah

What’s the best strategy for applying fungicide in highly variable corn fields where plants range in maturity from three to 10 leaves?

That’s a question BASF agronomist Ken Currah tackles on this episode of the RealAgriculture Corn School. He says that’s been the story of many corn fields this year, especially on clay soils where late-emerging plants are plentiful.

When it comes to fungicide strategy, Currah says “the first crop is usually the best crop” so he’s advising growers to focus on the those vigourous first-emergers. That’s an easier choice when the field contains 90 per cent first-emergers; however, the decision gets tougher when the number slips to 70 per cent and lower. Growers will have to consider whether they have the spraying capabilities to be razor sharp with fungicide application timing; and they also have to determine whether they have the ability to quickly harvest a crop with poor standability should disease gain a foothold in the field.

“There’s a lot of different factors that growers and agronomists are going to have to work through to really pin down the fungicide decision for those highly variable fields,” says Currah. (Story continues after the video.)

In the video, Currah highlights the key diseases growers need to keep on their radar while scouting, including tar spot, northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) and gibberella ear rot, which can lead to high DON levels in grain.

Currah explores the importance of understanding the potential of the crop as it sets yield through the five to 12-leaf stage. He also reviews the fundamentals of timing fungicide application for tar spot and NCLB, and the importance of identifying the green silk application window, pivotal for gibberella and DON management, which can vary from five to 10 days depending on weather conditions.

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