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No yield boost with fungicides on hail-damaged crops, according to university trials

University studies in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin show no yield upside to fungicide applications on hail-damaged corn and soybeans.

If your corn or soybeans have ever been hammered by hail, you may have considered applying a fungicide. Here’s what Nathan Kleczewski, University of Illinois (U of I) Extension field crop plant pathologist, has to say about the merits of applying fungicide on hail-damaged crops.

With recent hail in Illinois, the questions will start coming in as to the utility of foliar fungicides for wounded plant tissues. Some people consider fungicides for hail-damaged crops because it’s believed that hail can either increase infection of fungal pathogens or increase plant stress and foliar disease. 

Furthermore, some claim that potential physiological effects of some fungicidal active ingredients allow for plants to recover more quickly from hail damage and limit potential yield losses. 

It is important to note that the fungi that infect field crops do not require wounds to infect and cause disease. It is also important to note that bacterial diseases such as Goss’s wilt and bacterial leaf streak – which potentially could increase with hail damage – will not be controlled by fungicides. 

What Does the Research Say? 

No Significant Yield Improvement
Fungicides are effective at controlling fungal diseases and their benefits are realized when used in situations where fungal diseases are likely to limit crop productivity. They will not help with bacterial diseases, such as Goss’ wilt, bacterial stalk rot, or bacterial leaf streak. 

The university studies indicate that the application of fungicides for mitigation of hail damage does not appear to significantly improve yields over untreated controls. If you do choose to apply a fungicide to hail-damaged crops this year, consider leaving an untreated strip in the field to allow for a comparison of treatment effectiveness at the end of the growing season.

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