Soybean Disease Control: Fighting Fungus

Scouting In Soybeans

With planting season underway throughout the Midwest, finding the most efficient and economical way to go about preventing yield-robbing disease is a trending topic among retailers and growers.

La Niña conditions could have increased the presence of disease pathogens in fields which may lead to a challenging disease control season this summer, although a lot will depend on whether July and August are primarily cooler and rainier than in the past.

“I think this year a lot is going to depend on what July and August shape up to be,” says Nick Fassler, BASF technical marketing manager. “The way we’re going right now, with the opportunity for earlier planting, I think growers have the potential for higher yields, therefore there’s going to be more yield to protect once fall comes around.” 

Naturally then, growers want, and need, to know when and where to scout, how often and what fungicides to apply (or not to apply in some cases) to keep their crop fit until harvest time, and ag retailers are in the best position to guide them.

Yet, while the experts and individual growers may disagree on which management methods are most prudent for their operation, there is one aspect of soybean production that all agree is not likely to vary significantly from grower to grower.   

“Gone are the days where you can just plant the crop, go fishing and come back and harvest it,” says Alison Robert­son, Iowa State University plant pathologist. “If you’re going to maximize yield, you’ve got to baby this crop.”

For many the idea of “babying” anything can seem over­whelming, but enhanced scouting tools and fungicide chemistries — along with knowledgeable retailers taking a greater role in educating growers — are making the task easier to accomplish than ever before.

Increasing Disease Pressure

According to Eric Tedford, fungicide technical brand manager with Syngenta, disease pathogens are developing ahead of schedule this year due primarily to the warmer environmental conditions, increasing the susceptibility of soybeans to disease. Darren Mueller, Iowa State University assistant professor of plant pathology, seconds that notion.

“Most of these diseases are so dependent on conditions during the season and a grower can have all the inoculant in the world, but if it’s 95 degrees out, you’re not going to see a whole lot of frog-eye or white mold,” says Mueller. “So most diseases are very dependent on the weather both before and during the season.”

Also important in establishing a solid yield is the planting date itself, says Fassler. “The earlier growers can get those soybeans in the ground, the longer growth stage they’re going to enjoy throughout the season.”

Still, with the longer growth stage in play, disease is presented with greater opportunity to establish itself in a growers field.

Three soybean diseases in particular — frog-eye leaf spot, Asian soybean rust and brown spot — are expected by many to give unprepared growers their fair share of headaches this summer. Of course, implementing a solid management plan is crucial to overcoming those pests, and Tedford and Syngenta have several recommendations for worried growers.

“Growers need to make good seed selections — deploying genetics that get the job done — and utilize a disease control program featuring the proper fungicides for that field,” says Tedford. “How’s the old saying go? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

According to Tedford, Syngenta is taking the forefront in the battle against soybean disease with both Quilt Xcel and Quadris Top, two newer fungicides that may be foreign to some growers.

Quilt Xcel is a combination of azoxystrobin and propiconazole and is “an excellent player as it has the same spectrum of activity for disease control as Quadris and it also controls your resistant frog-eye,” says Tedford. “You’ll also still be getting the plant performance benefits that we’ve come to expect from azoxystrobin, as well.”

Quadris Top, an azoxystrobin and difenoconazole mix, is also a good option for growers as it provides significant control where QLI resistance is seen, according to the company.

Combining those two technologies with an insecticide, in this case Endigo ZC, is also being tested and the initial results are encouraging.

“That has proven to be a very effective tool in areas where you find both high disease pressure and high insect pressure,” says Tedford. “So far the folks that have tested it are very excited and happy with the combination.”

As for BASF, it continues to recommend growers use Headline, applying the fungicide either by ground or aerially during the R3 growth stage at podset. Priaxor, a new fungicide containing the active ingredient F500 (same as Headline and Stamina), as well as the recently registered chemical Xemium, should provide growers a great late-season option for foliar applications, notes Fessler.

“It’s going to be a great option for growers battling late season foliar diseases, primarily targeting things like Septoria brown spot and frog-eye leaf spot,” says Fessler of Priaxor, which received EPA registration in early May. “We also will typically recommend growers use an adjuvant to improve coverage and increase spreading over the leaves’ surface.”

Sorting through all of these options and deciding which one fits an individual grower is where the retailer enters the picture. 

“Retailers are supporting growers and helping them to make informed decisions more than ever before,” says Tedford. “They have a breadth of knowledge to offer and are a frontline, huge advantage to the growers to help protect their crops so they can reach full yield potential.”

Along those lines, Robertson also reminds growers to make sure that they take advantage of the gauntlet of resources available on the web, citing local University Extension pages and the Plant Health Initiative, a North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP) initiative launched back in 1993, as increasingly valuable information sharing tools.

It was via those info-sharing networks that have become so prevalent over the past several years that led Mueller to discover that several counties in Florida have discovered the earliest ever finding of Asian soybean rust.

Fighting The Good Fight

According to Robertson, there are several factors that can increase a seeds vulnerability to disease, among them:

  • Low Quality Seed: Cracked seed coatings can make the seed more attractive to pathogens.
  • No-Till Fields: Cool and wet soil conditions in a no-till field is a breeding ground for disease.
  • Herbicide Use: Some herbicides can actually increase disease susceptibility.
  • History: Fields with a long history of disease will always be at an increased risk.

Therefore, like BASF and Fessler, Mueller and ISU also recommend applying foliar fungicides during the R3 growth stage, although growers should be advised the R3 stage will come sooner this year than in the past due to the weather and earlier planting date. And just as researchers are discovering more and more herbicide-resistant diseases, Mueller cautions growers and retailers alike not to overuse fungicide technologies lest they face the same plight.

“One of the biggest messages retailers need to keep in mind is, with what we’ve seen with herbicide-resistant weeds, that is definitely a possibility with fungicide-resistant pathogens,” said Mueller. “Our encouragement is that people use them as responsibly as possible.”

“For example, frog-eye is one of the more devastating pathogens on soybeans,” continues Mueller. “Re­searchers at the University of Illinois have already found resistant frog-eye in four different states, so it’s a matter of time before some of these common foliar diseases are going to be insensitive to some of these fungicides. Growers need to really take a hard look at ‘Are these fungicides really worth it?’ and figure out where they are needed.”

According to Mueller, the best way for growers to figure out whether or not they actually need the technology is to first embrace weekly field scouting. Then, after analyzing the results, growers should be able to make an informed decision.

“I don’t want to come across as entirely negative because there certainly are fields that need to be sprayed with a fungicide,” says Mueller. “And so our encouragement is to take advantage of the plethora of scouting tools out there. People are running out of excuses not to scout and have that scouting effort drive their decisions.”

Also important is the planting date itself, as it is always prudent to plant seed when conditions are ideal.

“The sun may be shining and you may be itching to get these soybeans in the ground but just wait until the fields have drained a little bit better so you don’t run into agronomic issues that could stress the seedlings during germination,” says Robertson.

“Soybean seed is getting more and more expensive so growers want to plant the bare minimum required to maximize the yield potential on that field,” says Robertson. “So that means cutting down on seed, which makes every seed all that more important and they want to protect that investment.”

Adds Fessler: “The big thing I’ve seen this year in talking to growers and such is that with the current soybean prices, there really is an opportunity to manage the crop to its full potential,” says Fessler. “I think if we can get a good early stand and have good growing conditions late season, that’s historically where we’ve seen the greatest response from fungicide applications for soybeans.”

For updated information on managing soybean diseases and other plant health issues, visit the Plant Health Initiative.

Leave a Reply

Fungicides Stories

Frog eye leaf spot on soybean
FungicidesNew FMC Website Provides Season-Long Updates On Fungicide Plots
July 7, 2016
Grow Forward with FMC Fungicides is a plot initiative in key corn and soybean producing regions showcasing fungicides from FMC. Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Crop InputsTrivapro Fungicide Yield Results Elevate 2016 Crop Outlook
May 10, 2016
As growers evaluate business models and consider their 2016 management plans, strong first-year trial results for Trivapro fungicide from Syngenta Read More
Young Corn Closeup
FungicidesSummer Fungicides: Still A Difficult Sell
May 6, 2016
About a dozen years ago, Asian soybean rust (ASR) was working its way up to the U.S. from South America, where Read More
Spenser Forgey, Yahama Fortix
FungicidesIndiana Farmer Wins Arysta LifeScience FORTIX Fungicide Sweepstakes
April 28, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently presented Spenser Forgey, a grower from Young America, IN, with a new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly Read More
Trending Articles
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
Retail FacilitiesMarcus Construction Builds High-Speed Agronomy Center For Key Cooperative
July 7, 2016
Key Cooperative in Grinnell, IA, wanted a state-of-the-art Agronomy Center to better serve its customers. Marcus Construction delivered exactly that. Read More
Heritage Cooperative
Retail FacilitiesKahler Automation Designs State-Of-The-Art Facility For Heritage Cooperative
July 4, 2016
Heritage Cooperative in Marysville, OH, needed an efficient liquid, dry and grain facility to serve the many needs of their Read More
The Andersons Waterloo
ManagementFirst Indiana Facility Certified Under 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program
June 27, 2016
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that The Andersons, Inc.’s Waterloo, IN, facility has been added to its Read More
Food IT
Industry NewsCalifornia Event Will Mix Ag And Tech Professionals To Explore IT Solutions
June 20, 2016
Silicon Valley is hot on agriculture, and an upcoming event in California will bring together the food and tech industries Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Eric SfiligojWhat’s Next For Monsanto?
May 31, 2016
For the folks at Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, MO, it has been an eventful few weeks. Back on May Read More
Latest News
2016 ShowStopper | Case IH Patriot 4440 Sprayer
Equipment5 Show-stopping Products On Display At 2016 MAGIE
August 26, 2016
For 10 years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with voting for Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Pioneer: Corn Belt P and K Levels Lagging
August 24, 2016
A new DuPont Pioneer study conducted across 12 Corn Belt states demonstrates that growers may be leaving profit potential in Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsCould a Monsanto-Bayer Union Be 2 Weeks from Fruition?
August 24, 2016
Via STLToday.com (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch): Merger talks between Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are advancing after a series of Read More
EquipmentCase IH Debuts Nutri-Tiller 955 Strip-Till Applicator
August 24, 2016
With strip-till continuing to expand across new acres, Case IH designed the new Nutri-Tiller 955 strip-till applicator to help producers Read More
EquipmentCase Launches Aim Command FLEX, 25th Anniversary Patrio…
August 24, 2016
Case IH announces new AIM Command FLEX advanced spray technology for greater application accuracy, as well as special 25th Anniversary Read More
ASMARK 2016 Retailers Live! Tour - CPS
CropLife 100CPS Acquires Texas Retail Operation
August 23, 2016
Crop Production Services (CPS) has acquired the assets of Larry’s Chemical and Spray, Inc., for an undisclosed amount in an Read More
PrecisionAg Video Conference
Precision AgVideo: PrecisionAg Vision Conference
August 22, 2016
A Strategic Conference Focused on the Future of Farm Digitization and Precision Agriculture Visit precisionagvision.com and register today! Read More
Young Corn Plants
Industry NewsOABA Welcomes Nicole Wallace As Communication & Adm…
August 22, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association has hired Nicole Wallace as its communication and administrative coordinator. Wallace will help provide comprehensive communication Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsChemChina, Syngenta Receive Clearance From CFIUS
August 22, 2016
China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina) and Syngenta have announced that the companies have received clearance on their proposed transaction from the Read More
ManagementAg Industry Shows and Rumors
August 18, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming trade show schedule, crop protection merger updates, and content for Read More
MAGIE 2015
EquipmentMAGIE Takes The Pulse Of The Ag Retail Industry
August 18, 2016
Every year, one of the major highlights of my career as an ag journalist is attending the Midwest AG Industries Read More
MAGIE 2015 Overview
EquipmentPride In Professionalism On Display At MAGIE
August 18, 2016
The Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) is proud to partner with CropLife IRON and continue the tradition of bringing Read More
SprayersJenner Ag To Debut 25th Anniversary Edition Case IH Pat…
August 18, 2016
Visitors at the 2016 Midwest Ag Industries Exhibition (MAGIE) in Bloomington, IL, will have a unique photo opportunity, as Jenner Read More
Crop InputsEU Glyphosate Controversy Heating Up Yet Again
August 17, 2016
The battle over glyphosate rages on in Europe, creating a lot of question marks over whether the herbicide will continue Read More
Industry NewsNew Partnership Provides Improved Representation At Ohi…
August 16, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) has retained Belinda Jones of Capitol Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG) for government relations work in Read More
Tissue testing
FertilizerMosaic: 6 Tips For Better Crop Nutrition In Corn
August 16, 2016
Late in the crop season is a good time to assess visual nutrient deficiencies and ensure early- and mid-season deficiencies Read More
WebinarsWebinar Schedule
August 14, 2016
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
Dow DuPont
Crop InputsDowDuPont Update: EU Takes Closer Look at Merger
August 12, 2016
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. face months of haggling with European Union antitrust regulators who opened an in-depth probe Read More