Wisconsin Corn and Soybean Disease Update and Forecast – July 21, 2022

Damon Smith, Extension Field Crops Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Roger Schmidt, Nutrient and Pest Management Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rain, and the return of more humid weather, has meant that risk of tar spot of corn and white mold of soybean has increased over the past week. Now is the time to think about your in-season management plan for both of these diseases. Let’s dig in a bit on what the risk looks like for each disease.

Tar Spot of Corn

This week we added Fond du Lac County to the tar spot map (Fig. 1). We also continue to see tar spot slowly increasing in plots and production fields on the Arlington research station. Looking back at our records from last season, we are tracking almost identically with what happened last year. I know folks think it is dry, but the tar spot fungus doesn’t care. It might move slow in these conditions, but the elevated humidity provides adequate leaf wetness for the disease to slowly progress. Should it start raining more regularly I expect the disease to pick up speed.

Corn is rapidly approaching (if not already at) the optimal window of opportunity (VT-R3) for spraying fungicide to control tar spot. Given the high risk for tar spot across much of the state (Fig. 2), now is the time to call in that fungicide application if you are planning on it. Given the possible constraints on locating a custom applicator, getting the order in earlier than later may ensure application of fungicide by the R3 corn growth stage. Get out and scout, scout, scout!

Figure 2. Tar Spot Risk for Wisconsin on July 21, 2022

White Mold of Soybean

White mold risk has increased from reasonably low last week, to mostly moderate across the state, this week (Fig. 3). Risk trends are also increasing, indicating that weather is continuing to become more favorable for white mold development. As we approach the R3 soybean growth stage, it will be important to make a decision on fungicide application, especially if you haven’t already applied a fungicide. If rain moves in over the next 7-10 days, expect risk to continue to increase. In irrigated fields we have been able to find apothecia (the mushroom-like structure that produces spores that infect soybean). This corroborates the increased risk we are seeing even in non-irrigated fields.

Figure 3. White mold risk in Wisconsin for July 21, 2022.

The Field Prophet Tool

For those who like all of their disease prediction tools in one place you might check out the Field Prophet version of the Tarspotter and Sporecaster apps. This tool consolidates all of our disease prediction tools into one convenient tool. The app also allows for true 7-day forecasting and will display 7-day trends to better inform your disease management decisions. Field Prophet, Inc is a startup company supported by UW-Madison and uses science-based information and the same models as Tarspotter and Sporecaster to deliver informative tools for agriculture clientele. You can also download and use Field Prophet for free for the next 6 months! You might find this tool as a handy alternative to Tarspotter and Sporecaster.