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

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
Frog eye leaf spot on soybean
FungicidesMake The Case For Fungicides In 2014
February 3, 2014
New products are looking good, but will growers bite with lower crop prices? Read More
FungicidesMANA Introduces Custodia Premix Fungicide For Row Crops
January 14, 2014
New fungicide for corn, soybeans, and wheat contains the two most complementary systemic active ingredients available today in an optimized ratio to deliver both preventive and curative disease control. Read More

Trending Articles

Retail FacilitiesWaconia Manufacturing Builds Facility Designed For Speed, Efficiency
July 7, 2014
To make its new hub facility more efficient, Cooperative Elevator enlisted the aid of Waconia Manufacturing. Read More
EquipmentSummer Show Preview 2014: Superior Sprayers Take The Field
July 3, 2014
In this final installment of our coverage of the major categories of Big IRON that retailers can expect to test-drive at this summer’s events, here is a look at 19 sprayers. Read More
Scouting a soybean patch at Green Valley Ag.
EmployeesCropLife Compensation Survey: Battling Talent Drain
July 2, 2014
Retailers too often lose employees to companies outside of agriculture, while recruiting efforts are most often limited to competitors and other ag-focused organizations. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences Introduces SureStart II Herbicide
June 16, 2014
The enhanced formulation has improved viscosity and increased stability under heat and controls more than 60 high-anxiety grasses and broadleaf weeds found in corn fields. Read More
HerbicidesBASF Investing $270 Million To Expand U.S. Herbicide Production
June 11, 2014
BASF has invested more than $270 million to expand herbicide production capacities in the U.S., including more than 20 new products to be launched over next two years. Read More
EquipmentGPS: 25 Years And Still Growing
June 2, 2014
The evolution of global positioning systems applications in agriculture remains ongoing as the technology hits a notable milestone. Read More

Latest News

CropLife 100Pinnacle Forms Alliance With Wildlife Managment, Seed O…
July 25, 2014
The strategic alliance will provide Tecomate with key wildlife products, processing facilities, distribution centers and sales through Pinnacle’s ever-growing retail network. Read More
ManagementFranken Presses White House On RFS Support
July 25, 2014
Al Franken and a group of Senate democrats recently met with senior White House official John Podesta to urge the administration to change its position on an EPA proposal. Read More
ManagementASA, FarmLink To Launch ‘Operation Benchmark̵…
July 25, 2014
The American Soybean Association (ASA) and FarmLink are teaming up to help farmers close the $11 billion gap between what they harvested in 2013 and what they could harvest annually. Read More
StewardshipNorthey: Farmers Commit $1.4 Million to Try New Water Q…
July 25, 2014
The practices that are eligible for funding include cover crops, no-till or strip till and using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learn How Changing World Will Impact Iowa
July 24, 2014
Technology and understanding global consumer demand for Iowa farm products brought hundreds of farmers and agribusiness leaders to Ames recently for the annual Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Economic Summit. Read More
HerbicidesPurdue: Late Season Weeds May Require Manual Removal
July 24, 2014
Hand-rouging and pulling late season weeds by hand may be the best way to remove them, more so than using a herbicide, a Purdue Extension weed scientist says. Read More
Soybean Field
InsecticidesTransform WG, Closer SC Insecticides Receive R&D 10…
July 23, 2014
Dow AgroSciences has received the award from R&D Magazine for Transform WG insecticide and Closer SC insecticide with Isoclast active. Read More
EquipmentKinze, Raven Team Up On 4900 Planter Monitor
July 23, 2014
Kinze Manufacturing announces a partnership with Raven Industries to develop a standalone monitor solution for the Kinze 4900 series planter. With this new Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Continues To Confuse As Growers Await USD…
July 23, 2014
The new five-year Farm Bill eliminates many of the direct payments previously payed to growers and could benefit from USDA clarification, reports a Toledo Blade columnist. Read More
EquipmentPrecisionAg.com Relaunches With Responsive Design For M…
July 22, 2014
PrecisionAg, the worldwide leader in precision agriculture information and analysis, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, PrecisionAg.com. Read More
FungicidesEPA OKs Two Willowood Fungicides
July 21, 2014
The EPA has approved Willowood Azoxy 2SC and Willowood AzoxyProp Xtra. two widely used broad spectrum, preventative fungicides with systemic and curative properties. Read More
Precision AgFarmers Learning Fast As UAVs Take Off
July 17, 2014
Farmers and others interested in how UAVs can be used in agricultural applications were able to learn more about the technology during the recent Precision Aerial Ag Show. Read More
CropLife 100Bobby Knight, Richard Petty To Highlight Ag PhD Field D…
July 17, 2014
Attendees at the July 24 Ag PhD Field Day at Hefty Farms will learn about the latest agricultural technologies, and get a chance to meet legendary sports figures Bobby Knight and Richard Petty. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
July 17, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
A finished Willmar 16-ton side-shooting tender.
TendersNew Production Facility Helps Willmar
July 17, 2014
In 1963, a group of businessmen started Willmar. Today, a half-century later, the company is one of the ag industry’s longest-running brands. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Sells Carbon Credits To Chevrolet, Donate…
July 17, 2014
CF Industries has completed the sale of a large block of carbon reduction credits to Chevrolet, and will donate the net proceeds of $600,000 to the National FFA Foundation. Read More
CropLife 100Grainland Cooperative, Minier Cooperative Grain To Merg…
July 17, 2014
The shareholders of Grainland Cooperative and Minier Cooperative Grain Co. approved a merger of company operations effective August 1, 2014. Read More
ManagementStudy: Drought Costing California Billions
July 17, 2014
A new study has found the drought has cost the state $2.2 billion, primarily in lost farm revenue and wages. Read More