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University of Illinois trials find disease presence boosts fungicide response

Gil Gullickson 01/17/2011 @ 1:31pm Crops Technology Editor for Successful Farming magazine/Agriculture.com

University of Illinois (U of I) trials in 2010 found the most profitable use of strobilurin fungicides occurred when application was based on:

* Disease risk, such as hybrids susceptible to disease or hybrids planted in corn-on-corn situations with reduced tillage.

* Scouting that shows disease is present on the third leaf below the ear or higher on at least 50% of plants prior to tasseling.

“The most consistent profitable use of a fungicide occurs when disease is targeted,” says Carl Bradley, U of I Extension plant pathologist.

He reminds farmers that that yield response returns need to exceed fungicide and application costs. If fungicide and application costs hover around $25 per acre, you’d need a 5 bushel per acre yield increase at $5 per bushel corn to break even.

However, corn prices and fungicide prices can vary. Over time, he notes aiming for a 10 bushel per acre yield increase can better ensure profitability. This mainly hinges on disease severity in corn. In 21 U of I test sites from 2008 to 2010, 10 bushels per acre yield spikes occurred about one-third of a time following fungicide applications.

“When disease severity was less than 10%, we saw just an average of .1 bushels per acre yield response,” says Bradley. “In these cases, a 10 bushel per acre yield responses or more occurred just 14% of the time.

Between 10% and 14% disease severity, there was an average 6.8 bushels per acre response,” he adds. “A 10 bushel per acre yield response occurred 17% of the time.

“At 15% or more disease severity, yield increased on average 15.4 bushels per acre,” he adds. “Ten bushel per acre-plus yield increases spikes occurred 75% of the time.”

Sizeable yield increases can occur with little disease present. Fungicide application at a Perry, Illinois, site in 2009 spiked yields 10 bushels per acre when disease severity was well under 5%.

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