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

Trending Articles

CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More