Fungicides Commanding New Attention

A funny thing’s happened on the way to a possible Asian soybean rust epidemic in the U.S. Researchers at both chemical companies and universities are discovering more benefits of fungicide use on both soybeans and corn.

“Danger of rust has brought the awareness of fungicides to the fore,” says Randy Myers, fungicide product manager with Bayer. “There’s been a lot of testing of them on soybeans to see what they do in the absence of rust — then that’s moved on to corn.”

Don’t Rest On Rust

While the past two seasons have been relatively dry — literally and figuratively — for rust in the Midwest, companies and researchers CropLife® talked with continue to sound the alarm. “If the conditions are right, it’s the most aggressive disease I’ve experienced in my agricultural career over 30 years,” says Mats Edh, vice president, marketing with Cheminova.

“We’ve gone through two of the hottest, driest seasons on record in the South and even though rust got established fairly early in 2006, it doesn’t like that weather, so it didn’t spread much at all,” says Dr. Gary Fellows, technical marketing manager at BASF. “If we have a cool, wet spring, and the rust does get established, it can move quickly like it demonstrated in 2006,” says Jamie Nielson, Domark brand manager with Valent.

Later in the 2006 season, the disease was found in Mexico and Texas, and if discoveries of the spore are made earlier this year, there’s greater danger for Midwest soybeans. Myers explains that prevailing wind directions in the U.S. more easily carry inoculum from those areas than from the Southeast — from where the spores need to play hopscotch to travel north. “A lot of weather patterns from the Southwest can move it right up the Mississippi River and into the major soybean growing areas,” he explains.

A number of company reps believe our industry still doesn’t have a really good handle on what the disease will do under U.S. environmental conditions — the climate in Brazil where rust first hit hard is just too different to make too many projections for this continent.

“Soybean rust isn’t hard to fight, there are a lot of tools out there shown to be effective,” says Bayer‘s Myers, whose company offers Folicur (tebuconazole), a top seller in Brazil. “But timing is critical. Each product needs to be applied within its proper application window, and some products have a narrower window than others. Retailers and growers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of their chemical options to get the best disease activity.”

At the National Soybean Rust Sym­posium, the triazole class was touted as the best for soybean rust control, Nielson reports. “Last year, even at the university level, it was not clear what to use. This year, they’ve got more exposure with rust in the U.S.” He notes that there are currently seven or eight triazoles “out there,” all waiting for Section 3 clearance, including Valent’s Domark (tetraconazole).

“The triazoles have both curative and preventative activity. The curative part is important, since it’s difficult to know if you have the disease in the field when you spray,” says Edh, His firm Cheminova makes TOPGUARD (flutriafol). Even better can be a premix of a triazole with a strobilurin, as in Syngenta‘s Quilt, says Jamie Eichorn, fungicide product manager — who cites field trials by numerous university researchers.

Myers notes that Southwest growers have become accustomed to using fungicides on soybeans for the past five to seven years because they’ve been going after other diseases such as Cercospora and aerial blight. “That mentality will serve as a template for growers farther north that really haven’t had a need for applying fungicides.”

Retailers will play a key role in helping farmers determine whether to spray for rust, says Nielson. He says his company receives grower e-mails forwarded from USDA’s rust Web site. “We’ll then forward them to our sales force and they send them on to the retailers. We really rely on the retailers to be the vocal point. We focus on educating them, to make sure they’re more aware of rust and its movement.”

Valent offers Domark 230ME, a micro-emulsion formulation specifically designed for soybeans that’s awaiting Section 3 approval. The company says the formulation pours very nicely, has no odor — and helps spread across the plant, then be actively absorbed by the leaf.

Corn Gets A Dose

While rust often grabs the spotlight, experts agreed that gray leaf spot infestations were on the rise last year in corn, due in part to the move to reduced tillage — which provides a cozy place for inoculum numbers to grow. “With the potential for increased acres and more corn on corn rotations, the potential for gray leaf spot could increase in ’07 due to overwintering of the inoculum on residue,” says Syngenta’s Eichorn. He reports growers using Quilt saw an average increase of 15.5 bushels/acre more than an untreated check.

Bayer’s Myers notes that gray leaf spot is a real problem for growers in the Plains states where irrigation keeps moisture levels high. “The activity of Stratego, on the disease is excellent, so growers saw a very nice yield bump,” says Myers. The product, a triazole/strobilurin combination, has been a top performer in rice — even credited with improving milling quality as well as yield — but it wasn’t until last season that the product impacted corn.

The tricky part for fungicide application on corn is how. Timing to apply is around tassel/silk initiation when plants are huge. “A lot more airplanes will be spraying fungicides on corn than what we’ve had historically,” says Myers.

Perhaps even more dicey: convincing Midwest growers they even need a late-season fungicide, especially considering there hasn’t been a massive disease infestation since Southern corn leaf blight back in the ’70s. “It’s going to take a shift in their paradigm to suddenly think there are inputs and concerns later in the season. These are new tools that can help increase yields,” says Myers, whose family has farmed for generations without late-season applications. Typically growers have relied on breeding programs to build resistance into hybrids so that diseases have only caused a small yield drag. Newer, much more effective classes of chemistries in recent years are debunking old ideas that fungicides can’t help.

Troy Bettner, senior product/marketing manager for fungicides with Makhteshim Agan of North America, says that 18 trials with Bumper (propiconazole) logged an average yield increase of 10 bushels/acre of corn. The fungicide — as well as the company’s Orius formulations (tebuconazole) — have Section 18 labels.

BASF reports 12 to 15 bushel/acre yield increases with Headline (pyraclostrobin) applications. Why the gain? “Besides gray leaf spot, we know there are diseases out there, but they’re not always evident to growers,” says Gary Fellows, product manager with BASF.

Plant Health Means Higher Yields

But the enhanced productivity of strobilurin-treated crops can no longer just be attributed to good disease control. In both soybeans and corn, better plant performance because of fungicide applications became more evident in 2006. Fellows says Headline makes plants healthier, more efficient in plant growth, and more resistant to stress. “We’ve had reports out of Texas and Mississippi, where there was a lot of drought stress. Once they did get a rain, Headline-treated corn came out of the drought very rapidly with less damage. Hail damaged fields also came out quicker and out-yielded untreated crops,” he says. Growers said combining was easier and more efficient because plants weren’t lodged — stalks were stronger.

“In soybeans we’re seeing a very similar thing,” he adds. Indeed, Kip Cullers, the Missouri grower who logged the 2006 World Record soybean yield at 139 bushels/acre, credits a part of success to Headline. (Fellows also points out that Headline is providing “one of the highest levels of rust control” as well as controlling other yield-robbing soybean diseases such as frogeye and septoria.)

“We’ve found that Quadris inhibits the release of ethylene in the plant, delaying senescence, and resulting in longer retention of plant leaves. It also decreases transpiration, which makes the plant more tolerant to water loss and water stress,” explains Syngenta’s Eichorn. Carbon dioxide “assimilation” is improved, allowing the plant to use the sun’s energy more efficiently (photosynthesis) to create better canopy growth and healthier plants, he explains.

Our experts encouraged dealers to use the Web to find other information showing yield advantages from fungicide applications under various conditions. Says Myers: “Retailers need to be looking for information germane to their geography so they can communicate to the growers that there’s a real benefit out there. The biggest challenge I think retailers will be facing is convincing growers there’s something else that can bump up those yields.

“It’s a change in the way growers approach things. We’ll see this coming season just how widely accepted it becomes.”

Leave a Reply

Fungicides Stories
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
FungicidesResearchers Target Soybean Disease With Genetic Resistance Study
August 6, 2014
University of Illinois researchers will share new information on controlling sudden death syndrome through genetic resistance at this year's Agronomy Day. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybeans
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
FungicidesNew Players May Make Pest Headlines In Corn, Soybean
April 1, 2014
The usual insects and diseases took a bit of a break in 2013, but other culprits surfaced — and could return. Read More
Top 100 Articles
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location In Indiana
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
corn field
CropLife 100The Andersons’ Humic DG Now Available In Canada
February 13, 2015
The Andersons, Inc. Turf & Specialty Group has announced its Humic DG product is now available to customers in the Canadian turf, agriculture and horticulture markets. Read More
Farmer on tablet
CropLife 100Southern States Co-op: An Inside Look At Our Aerial Imagery Program
February 8, 2015
Now is as good a time as any to explore the basics of what a retail aerial imagery program looks like today. Read More
Latest News
Eric SfiligojCommodity Classic 2015: Playing The Waiting Game
March 2, 2015
There was plenty of future-talk at this year’s event as companies (and growers) are largely in a holding pattern of sorts. Read More
Industry NewsHighway Equipment Appoints New Director Of Business Dev…
March 2, 2015
Cory Venable, who joined Highway Equipment Company (HECO) in 2013 as OEM Account Manager, has been promoted to Director of Business Development. Read More
Prairieland FS employees
Eric SfiligojWorkforce Worries
March 2, 2015
Finding good employees almost always ranks as the No. 1 or No. 2 problem for ag retailers in our annual CropLife 100 survey. Read More
Growmark Group
CropLife 100GROWMARK In 2015: Back, To The Future
March 2, 2015
The nation’s third largest ag retail organization is simultaneously moving forward while remembering its past. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Expands Sanders Brand In The South
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle has acquired Hopkins Seed and Chemical in Qulin, MO, which expands the company's Sanders brand to nine Southern states. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Launches New Providence Agriculture Location I…
February 27, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings — ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100 — has established a new retail location in New Castle, IN, which will operate as part of Pinnacle's Providence Agriculture brand. Read More
2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad To Share Positive Message
Management2,4-D Celebrates 70 Years; GROWMARK Uses Super Bowl Ad …
February 27, 2015
Jim Gray, executive director of the 2,4-D Research Task Force, lays out planned activities to mark the chemistry’s 70th anniversary. Read More
HerbicidesUniversity Of Arkansas Flag The Technology Program Adds…
February 27, 2015
Started in 2010, the Flag the Technology program provides a visual reference for applicators to distinguish between fields planted with different herbicide-tolerant trait technologies. Read More
Luckey Farmers, Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center
Industry NewsLuckey Farmers’ Berkey Branch Certified In 4R Nut…
February 26, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced Luckey Farmers Inc.’s Berkey Farm Center in northwest Ohio has been added to its growing list of nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More
Crop InputsWinField Unveiling NutriVision Technology, Ascend Dry F…
February 24, 2015
New for 2015 are NutriVision Technology, a unique tool for monitoring in-season plant nutrient availability, and Ascend WSG plant growth regulator, a new dry formulation of Ascend plant growth regulator. Read More
FertilizerNew Formulation Of NutriSphere-N Protects High Volume U…
February 24, 2015
Verdesian Life Sciences is launching NutriSphere-N HVTM, a new polymer formulation of the proven NutriSphere-N Nitrogen Fertilizer Manager that protects high-volume applications of UAN. Read More
EquipmentIowa Ag Secretary Northey Names Hagie Water Quality Lea…
February 24, 2015
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has named Hagie Mfg. as a recipient of the Secretary’s Water Quality Initiative (WQI) Leader Award. Read More
FungicidesEvito Fungicide Gives Canadian Wheat Growers New Diseas…
February 24, 2015
EVITO fungicide from Arysta LifeScience North America gives Canadian wheat and barley growers a new option for disease control. Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Commodity Classic Turns 20
February 23, 2015
Two decades in, this annual gathering of all things agriculture has become a must-see event. Read More
CropLife 100Cooperative CHS Returns $518 Million To Owners
February 23, 2015
The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record. Read More
CropLife Retail Week: On The Road Edition
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: On The Road Edition
February 20, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent trips to the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville and the Read More
Crop InputsLand O’Lakes Acquires FLM+ Assets
February 19, 2015
FLM+ will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Land O'Lakes, Inc., and the company will retain its employee base after closing of the deal, which is scheduled for the second quarter of the year. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnited Suppliers, Stine Seed Form Marketing Alliance
February 19, 2015
The new alliance will greatly expand sales opportunities for Stine Seed with the United Supplier Seed Link Owners. Read More