Make The Case For Fungicides In 2014

Coming off 2012 and the worst drought many in the Corn Belt had ever witnessed, growers and dealers wondered what 2013 might hold for disease pressure. “Midwest geographies started out very wet, but by July the rain had shut off, leaving growers really debating whether to invest in a fungicide or not,” describes Andrew Fisher, commercial product lead for fungicides at Syngenta.  The 2014 season will pose a similar problem for producers, though crop prices, not weather, may be the deciding factor.

Chemical companies stand ready with a host of new products to address disease and to protect and improve yields. It will be up to dealers to guide their customers in planning fungicide programs.

Single Active Ingredients

With two million acres treated, 2013 saw the successful launch of DuPont’s new strobilurin fungicide Aproach (picoxystrobin), targeted for soybeans, corn and cereals. “Growers have really been able to see improved yield and quality themselves,” says Todd Robran, DuPont fungicide portfolio manager.

The product intro was particularly timely as many soybean producers were faced with white mold problems, in some cases severe outbreaks. Robran says the normal application time for Aproach on soybeans would be the R3 stage, but if growers need to target white mold, he recommends they move up the treatment, to the R2 stage.

The DuPont team carefully watched how Aproach did in corn, and they were encouraged by better-than-anticipated performance in terms of improving the yield, quality and harvestability of the crop. Robran notes that DuPont has the opportunity to work closely with Pioneer to help match up Aproach with the hybrids that could benefit the most from a foliar application, so growers can see a “nice return on that investment.”

Northern Corn Leaf Blight
Northern corn leaf blight is one disease targeted by DuPont’s Aproach.

Disease-wise, Robran says Aproach offered good control of three main problems: Gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and rust.

Aproach is applied at the V1 (tassel) to R1 stage on corn, to offer the most protection of leaves in the uppermost part of the corn canopy as well as all the way down to the ear leaf. Protecting those leaves leads to improved grain fill, test weight and kernel depth, says Robran.

Some growers looking to more intensively manage their corn acres and push yields have added an additional application at the V5 stage (when the plant is 12 to 16 inches tall). “That will keep early season disease inoculum in check and pick up foliar health benefits,” says Robran.

New Importance Of Premixes

With limited active ingredients available, chemical companies are taking to combining effective fungicides. For 2014, DuPont has launched Aproach Prima, which adds the triazole cyproconazole to picoxystrobin in a premix. Robran says the triazole will be especially valuable in the mid-South, where it has been used “very sparingly” so far and where soybean growers are facing increased disease pressure from some strobilurin-resistant strains of frog eye leaf spot.

Frog eye leaf spot on soybean
Soybean growers are facing pressure from strobilurin-resistant strains of frog eye leaf spot.

In the Midwest, Aproach Prima is especially designed for growers aiming to maximize yields as well as producers of higher-value corn, including seed corn and white, waxy and food grade hybrids — “crops where yield and quality are going to be of tantamount importance,” says Robran.

With the frogeye leafspot problem accelerating, 2013 was a good time for the first widespread sales of Syngenta’s newcomer Quadris Top SB, a premix of azoxystrobin and difenoconazole. Fisher sees the resistance spreading not only across the South but also into the southern Midwest. “Strobilurin chemistries across the board just aren’t controlling the disease,” he says. “With that, Quadris Top SB was an outstanding fit — and the brand actually catapulted into a very good sales year.” Syngenta’s forecasts show quite a few geographies are planning to increase use of the product even more in 2014.

Foliar application on row crops is actually a new approach for this particular strobilurin/triazole combination. It’s previously been used as a seed treatment and as a foliar treatment in some vegetables and specialty crops.

Fisher points out Quadris Top SB not only controls many diseases but helps crops deal with stresses, generating an improved “plant health” effect. For instance, growers have seen a four to eight bushel per acre yield increase in soybeans. Fisher says “that’s a really good return on investment — you’re looking at a 3:1 or 4:1 return vs. what they’re paying for the fungicide.”

January 1 was the day MANA officially began marketing its new fungicide Custodia, the first premix available for azoxystrobin and tebuconazole.

“The reason we’re excited about new Custodia is that we’ve taken two systemic products that complement each other for an end result of heavy-hitting disease control for use on multiple crops,” says Matt Bradley, Custodia brand leader. “Both active ingredients in the formulation provide qualities including speed of disease knockdown which results in longer protection. It also reduces or eliminates the need for an additional fungicide applications during the season.

MANA’s new offering delivers curative and preventative control on a wide array of diseases including Cercospora on soybeans, Grey leaf spot on corn and stripe rust and leaf spot on wheat.

According to Bradley, Custodia first and foremost is designed to control diseases. In addition, he says data shows that Custodia can optimizes yield during periods when non-optimal photosynthesis periods occur. “This supports MANA’s message that this new fungicide can help drive yield increases and stalk health up until harvest,” says Bradley.

Specific to resistance management, Bradley says “with few new active ingredients coming to the marketplace, growers need to be very cognizant of stewardship practices that keep fungicide chemistry in rotation in order to maintain product viability for years to come.”

Another premix that promises more systemic action than other fungicides is Syngenta’s Quilt Xcel, a combination of azoxystrobin and propiconazole, which saw its first year of widespread use in 2013. Fisher says with the activity, new leaves and plant parts are protected as the crop grows.

Quilt Xcel also protects plants from environmental stresses, allowing them to retain more moisture. In corn, it’s also helped produce longer ears, extended grain fill and improved harvestability. “The plant is not cannibalizing the starches within the stalk, keeping it healthier,” Fisher explains.

In 2014, BASF expects additional crop registrations for Priaxor, a premix containing pyraclostrobin — the same active ingredient as the company’s star performer Headline — and fluxapyroxad (Xemium fungicide), says Brianne Reeves, BASF technical marketing specialist, plant health fungicides. New uses include in-furrow use for soybeans as well as sorghum and sugarcane. In corn, Priaxor is applied pre-tassel to complement a post-tassel application of Headline AMP. Also expected is registration for Sercadis fungicide in rice.

Making The Sale

These product line-ups are impressive, but will your customers see the value? While five years of higher commodity prices may have encouraged growers to include fungicides in their crop protection programs, recent price drops may make customers pause. MANA’s Bradley says his team is working to help grower-customers better understand how financial conditions may impact crop protection decisions this coming year. “We’ve found that fungicide applications are usually the easiest of all crop inputs for growers to ‘drop out’ or exclude from their overall crop protection programs,” he says.

Bradley points out that growers have been willing to spend money on high-priced genetics and expensive seed treatment. If growers plan to spend that much money for these related inputs, it only makes sense that they need to understand a hybrid or variety’s sensitivity to disease,” he says. Bradley says budgeting for a fungicide application usually pays for itself and should be an annual consideration.

Robran says it’s important for dealers to sit down with their growers to help position the foliar fungicides with them. “Look at less of a one size fits all approach where you go in and treat every acre and more of a strategic approach where you treat the acres that are going to benefit the most from a foliar application,” he explains. “Those may be acres in continuous corn, with higher value hybrids, with more narrow-row spacing, or those planted to a corn hybrid or soybean variety that would just benefit from a little more disease protection.”

Syngenta’s Fisher had an interesting point: “I would remind all of us that in 2009 when the fungicide market was just starting to grow in the Midwest, the corn price in ROI modeling was $4.25 per bushel — which is very similar to where it is today. Bottom line, even at $4.25 corn, a fungicide like Quilt Xcel still delivers a grower a 3:1 or 4:1 ROI. So it’s a very good investment.

“I would actually say at $4.25 corn it’s more important to maintain that ROI than when those corn prices are at $6,” he says.

MANA’s Bradley would add that retailers and crop consultants serve a critical role in providing growers with accurate information for how and when to adopt fungicides onto their crops. “Grower interpretation of how best to use a fungicide to their advantage is an ongoing educational process. Solid recommendations from retailers and consultants is at the core of grower success and return-on-investment from relying on these kinds of input,” he explains.

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Make The Case For Fungicides In 2014

  1. In the Jan 2013 issue of Vegetable Growers News a researcher at the Beltsville Maryland Research said “We use no fumigants and no fungicides and our program is known for disease resistance. the soils in our fields have a natural population of soil microbes.” they do not kill off the benefical microbes by using fungicides. e have many growers who have not used methyl bromide in years.

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
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
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Inks Satellite Imagery Agreement
February 3, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Company has reached an agreement with Planet Labs to bring satellite imagery to the AgVerdict software platform. Read More
Latest News
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
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
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
Crop InputsVilsack To Deliver Commodity Classic Keynote Address
February 19, 2015
The secretary will deliver a keynote address to several thousand farmers and ag allies during the event's General Session, to be held Friday, February 27, in Phoenix, AZ. Read More
Crop InputsSoybean Storage Tips
February 19, 2015
On-farm storage of soybeans requires some special considerations compared to corn. Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsBioAg Alliance Delivers Promising Field Trial Results
February 19, 2015
In its first full year of field trials, the BioAg Alliance reported that the top 10 microbial strains tested in corn and soybeans showed very promising results. Read More
National Farm Machinery Show overview
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Attendance Up By 16K
February 18, 2015
The 2015 event saw the second highest attendance total of all time as 310,589 attendees that included exhibitors and agribusiness professionals traveled to the Kentucky Exposition Center to participate in the nation’s largest indoor ag trade show. Read More