There wasn’t much foliar disease in corn or soybeans this year, a field agronomist said
By Diego Flammini
Some producers may not have encountered lots of foliar disease this year, but it didn’t prevent them from applying fungicides when necessary.
This is because commodity prices supported these kinds of investment decisions, said Meaghan Anderson, an extension field agronomist with Iowa State University.
“There’s always fungicide use for preserving plant health or concerns for disease,” she said. “And given the crop prices this year and how they rebounded from last summer, I think that helped farmers feel more confident about investing in a fungicide.”
In corn, farmers generally sprayed for gray leaf spot and tar spot.
And soybean farmers applied fungicides for multiple diseases Anderson said.
“The big one in soybeans is always frogeye leaf spot,” she told Farms.com. “But I would say we had a number of other disease issues in soybeans.”
These include white mold, sudden death syndrome, and brown rot.
Were the fungicide applications a worthwhile investment in 2021?
It may still be too early to tell, Anderson said.
“We’ve harvested a lot of crops here, but I don’t think we’ve had the opportunity to sit down and identify how the fungicide did on a particular hybrid or variety,” she said.
Central Iowa, where Anderson is based, had a mostly dry year.
In June, for example, about 40 percent of the state experienced moderate or severe drought.
Despite a relative lack of moisture, farmers applied fungicides because the potential for disease is always there, Anderson said.
“This is where the disease triangle comes in,” she said. “The pathogen needs to be present, and for most of them they are surviving on the soil. You need a susceptible crop, and we’re always growing corn and soybeans here, which are susceptible. And then you need the weather conditions, and each pathogen prefers different conditions.”
Planning for potential fungicide use next year can begin now.
Producers should engage with their dealers about different hybrids and varieties, Anderson said.
“Do you need to talk to your seed dealer to find out what they know about underlying tolerance and if there’s a better option for you? Fungicides are a great tool we have but they’re not our first line of defense. Planning hybrids and varieties now is a good start.”