2021 Wisconsin Fungicide Test and Disease Management Summary Now Available

Brian Mueller, Researcher II, UW-Madison, Plant Pathology

Damon Smith, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, UW-Madison, Plant Pathology

Mimi Broeske, Distinguished Editor, UW-Madison, Nutrient and Pest Management Program

Each year the Wisconsin Field Crops Pathology Program conducts a wide array of fungicide and disease management tests on alfalfa, corn, soybeans, and wheat. These tests help inform researchers, practitioners, and farmers about the efficacy of certain fungicide products on specific diseases and how to pair them with other disease management strategies. We hope you find this report useful in making decisions for the 2022 field season.

The 2021 Wisconsin Field Crops Fungicide Test and Disease Management Summary is available by clicking here. These tests are by no means an exhaustive evaluation of all products available, but can be used to understand the general performance of a particular fungicide in a particular environment. Keep in mind that the best data to make an informed decision, come from multiple years and environments. To find fungicide performance data from Wisconsin in other years, visit the Wisconsin Fungicide Test Summaries page. You can also consult publication A3646 – Pest Management in Wisconsin Field Crops to find information on products labeled for specific crops and efficacy ratings for particular products. Additional efficacy ratings for some fungicide products for corn foliar fungicidessoybean foliar and seed-applied fungicides, and wheat foliar fungicides can be found on the Crop Protection Network website.

Mention of specific products in these publications are for your convenience and do not represent an endorsement or criticism. Remember that this is by no means a complete test of all products available.  You are responsible for using pesticides according to the manufacturers current label. Some products listed in the reports referenced above may not actually have an approved Wisconsin pesticide label. Be sure to check with your local extension office or agricultural chemical supplier to be sure the product you would like to use has an approved label.  Follow all label instructions when using any pesticide. Remember the label is the law!

New Research Update: Disease Development and Deoxynivalenol Accumulation in Silage Corn

Richard W. Webster, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Maxwell O. Chibuogwu, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Hannah Reed, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Brian Mueller, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Carol L. Groves, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Albert U. Tenuta, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Martin I. Chilvers, Michigan State University; Kiersten A. Wise, University of Kentucky; and Damon Smith, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A new research update has just been published on the Crop Protection Network summarizing recent work conducted to understand how deoxynivalonol (DON or vomitoxin) accumulates in silage corn plants. We also took a look at managing this issue with fungicides. The summary of the work is below, or you can click here to read the entire research update.

Gibberella ear rot

Summary

  • Fusarium graminearum is a fungus that causes the two diseases, Gibberella ear rot and Gibberella stalk rot, which can lower yield and feed quality of silage corn.
  • This fungus produces a secondary metabolite called deoxynivalenol (DON; also known as vomitoxin) during development and colonization of the corn plant, which is toxic to both humans and livestock.
  • Our research found that infection, colonization, and production of DON by F. graminearum in ears and stalks of corn plants can differ, and suggests that the two diseases can occur independently of each other.
  • Foliar fungicides reduced foliar diseases in both years, but the effects of fungicide on DON concentrations across entire plants were inconsistent in 2019.
  • Scouting for Gibberella ear and stalk rot and testing for DON in silage corn is important even if visual ear symptoms are not present as DON may still be accumulating in the stalks.

2021 Wisconsin Pest Management Update Meetings (In-Person Events Cancelled; Virtual Offering Only)

After much deliberation, we made the difficult decision to pivot the 2021 Wisconsin Pest Management Update Meetings from a hybrid model to all virtual because of continued COVID-19 concerns and low registration numbers. Thus, the in-person events at Darlington (November 16, 2021), Chippewa Falls (November 17, 2021) and Kimberly (November 18, 2021) are now cancelled.

We will maintain the virtual offering on Friday November 19th(9:00 AM to Noon) and are adding a second virtual offering of the same program on Tuesday November 16th (1:00 PM to 4:00 PM) so participants can pick the option that best fits their schedule.

To register for one of the virtual events, please go to the following link: https://go.wisc.edu/8tufvc

This year’s speakers will include:

  • Mark Renz, Perennial Cropping Systems Extension Weed Specialist
  • Rodrigo Werle, Annual Cropping Systems Extension Weed Specialist
  • Nick Arneson, Extension Outreach Specialist, weeds
  • PJ Leisch Extension Entomology Diagnostician
  • Damon Smith, Extension Field Crops Pathologist

Topics will include updates in the area of weed, pest, and disease management along with a panel discussion and Q&A regarding the pest management challenges related to planting soybeans early.

Three (3) Pest Management CCA CEUs have been requested for this event.

Registration includes PDF of A3646 Pest Management In Wisconsin Fields.

We apologize for any inconvenience this decision may cause.

Pest Management Update Team

Save the Dates and Attend the 2021 Pest Management Update Meetings

For 2021, the UW-Madison, Division of Extension and UW-Madison, Nutrient and Pest Management Program (NPM) will host the Pest Management Update Meetings as a hybrid event with (3) in-person meetings and (1) virtual option. All in-person meetings will be held from 1- 4pm local time at the venue listed for each location below. Check in will begin at 12:30pm with light refreshments available during the event. 

This year’s speakers include: Mark Renz, Perennial Cropping Systems Extension Weed Specialist; Rodrigo Werle, Annual Cropping Systems Extension Weed Specialist; Nick Arneson, Weed Science Outreach Specialist; PJ Liesch Extension Entomology Diagnostician; and Damon Smith, Extension Field Crops Pathologist. Topics will include updates in the area of weed, insect and disease management. A panel discussion and Q&A regarding the pest management challenges related to planting soybeans early will follow. 

The cost for the in-person events will be $50 per person and include a packet with materials including a hardcopy of A3646 Pest Management in Wisconsin Field Crops. This year ONLY, all in-person attendants will also receive a free copy of A Farmer’s Guide to Wheat Diseases, which is a $30 value. UW COVID safety protocols will be followed during the event. 

The cost for the virtual event will be $20 per person with pre-registration required. The virtual registration will include links to PDFs of materials and a PDF version of the A3646 publication. 

Below and in the attached flier are the dates, locations, and times for each event. Be sure to contact and register ONLY at the location you plan to attend. For the virtual option, links will be sent closer to the event.

 SOUTHERN WI 

Tuesday November 16 

1pm-4pm 

Ames Road Multi-Purpose Building 11974 Ames Rd, Darlington, WI 53530 

Josh Kamps, UW-Madison, Division of Extension 

Dan Smith, UW-Madison NPM Program 

Register with Sara Schilling 

608-776-4820 or 

sara.schilling@wisc.edu 

NORTHWEST WI 

Wednesday November 17

1pm-4pm 

Avalon Hotel and Conference Center 

1009 W Park Ave. 

Chippewa Falls, WI 54729 

Jerry Clark, UW-Madison, Division of Extension Kolby Grint, UW-Madison NPM Program 

Register with Jerry Clark 

715-726-7955 or 

jerome.clark@wisc.edu 

NORTHEAST WI 

Thursday November 18 

1pm-4pm 

Liberty Hall Banquet/ Conference Center 

800 Eisenhower Dr, Kimberly, WI 54136 

Kevin Jarek, UW-Madison, Division of Extension Jamie Patton, UW-Madison NPM Program 

Register with Kevin Jarek 

kevin.jarek@wisc.edu or ina.montgomery@outagamie.org 

(920)-832-4763 

VIRTUAL 

Friday November 19

9am-noon 

Kimberly Schmidt, UW-Madison, Division of Extension Dan Marzu, UW-Madison NPM Program 

Register at https://patstore.wisc.edu/secure/browse_ cat.asp?category_id=39 

Tar Spot Is Here To Stay…

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

…let’s start working on how to manage it in Wisconsin (Some thoughts on how to do this in the “Other Resources” below). While we haven’t had major epidemics every year since 2016, tar spot has been found each year and caused problems in some corn fields since its discovery. Figure 1 show counties in the U.S. that tar spot has been found, to date. I’m sure there are others in Wisconsin, feel free to send me pictures or samples for confirmation.

 

Yes, 2018, and now 2021, have clearly seen significant tar spot epidemics that affect yield. What challenges will we be dealing with as we move into harvest in 2021? Here are my thoughts.

Silage Corn Harvest

I took a crack at this one in the video below.

Many are already chopping or have finished at this point. However, it is important to realize that tar spot can dry corn plants abnormally fast. Thus, packing the bunker and initiating fermentation can be a challenge. This can lead to secondary issues such as fungal growth in the bunker and/or increases in mycotoxins. Monitor things carefully and do the best job you can this year putting the crop in the bunker. This year isn’t the year to cut corners!

Grain Corn Harvest

Now is the time to get out there and see how much tar spot is in your grain corn crop and start making plans for order of harvest. If the crop is shutting down abnormally fast, then stalk integrity is going to start to become an issue. Prioritizing fields with high tar spot pressure for harvest first, will help to limit lodging issues and ease harvest headaches. Also, be sure to check for other issues as you scout, like ear rots, that can lead to mycotoxin issues. Get mycotoxin tests if you think you might have problems, before you put it in the bin. You don’t want to mix grain that is low in mycotoxins with grain that has high levels of mycotoxins. Incidentally, no mycotoxins have been implicated directly with tar spot.

More on the grain harvest situation can viewed in the video below.

Tar Spot Management Nuggets as Harvest Begins

The two big questions I have been getting lately about tar spot management are: 1) How is tar spot hybrid resistance looking? 2) How does fungicide work on tar spot?

First, hybrids…There aren’t any hybrids that we know of that are completely resistant. Yes, some are more partially resistant that others. Now is also a good time to look at hybrids. Those that show less disease and are still green are going to be better candidates to grow next year versus those that are showing lots of tar spot and have already dried down. Look at local hybrid trials, especially. Write down the numbers of hybrids that look good. Leave the others that look bad.

Now the fungicide question. Yes, there are some fungicides that work. Yes, even on susceptible hybrids they can help. However, like white mold in soybeans, fungicide efficacy is largely dependent on fungicide application timing. Miss the onset of the epidemics, or periods where the epidemic is rapidly increasing, and even a great fungicide will look terrible.

To help with the timing decision we have developed the Tarspotter smartphone app. We have been testing this app over the last couple of seasons. It is useful in that it can help you anticipate epidemics of tar spot to get fungicide applications on preventatively, when they will work the best. Figure 2 below shows the performance of a fungicide application applied using Tarspotter versus a single application at the VT growth stage versus the non-treated check. While the standard VT application did well, two-applications (one at the start of the epidemic at V10 and another at R2) were needed to hold tar spot off in 2021. As you can clearly see, Tarspotter can be used to make these complicated spray decisions and optimize fungicide performance.

Figure 2. Non-treated check on the left, fungicide applied at VT only in the center, and fungicide applied at V10 and R2 according to Tarspotter on the right.

As for fungicide products, we continue to see mixed-mode-of-action products work more consistently that single-mode-of-action products. This fall we should have some updated fungicide performance information that might shed more light on this subject. Stay tuned!

Other Resources

Tar Spot Web-book

Will a Second Fungicide Be Worth the Cost for Tat Spot Management?

Fact Sheet: Tar Spot

How Tar Spot of Corn Impacted Hybrid Yields During the 2018 Midwest Epidemic

Wisconsin Soybean and Corn Disease Update – August 2, 2021

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Camila Primieri Nicolli, Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

It has been a while since I posted a corn and soybean disease update for Wisconsin in 2021, and that is because it has been reasonably quiet in the disease world up to this point. However, recent scouting and incoming reports indicate that this could change a bit as we move into August. Let’s take a look at what has happened so far this season and what to keep an eye out for over the next month or so.

The Soybean Situation

Figure 1. Phytophthora Root and stem rot of soybean

The Phytophthora Issue in Soybeans. During July we saw, and received reports, of some fields with Phytophthora root and stem rot of soybean (Fig. 1). I have received a lot of questions on why this happened. Are we seeing changes in the races of the Phytophthora organism in Wisconsin? My short answer is probably not. However, we have found a new species of Phytophthora in some fields that can affect soybean. The new species, Phytophthora sansomeana, can be found in mixed infections with P. sojae. Thus, even if we deployed the proper Rps resistances genes in our varieties, this “new” organisms might be causing some of the damage we observed this year.

We also are seeing fewer available soybean varieties with Rps 1K form of resistance. This form of resistance should be effective on about 99% of the fields in Wisconsin. Instead, we see varieties deployed that have the Rps 1c, Rps 1a, or no Rps gene indicated. Rps 1C is effective on about 75% of the acres in Wisconsin, just to give you some perspective. Thus, I don’t think this is necessarily an issue where we have seen race shifts in P. sojae, but a combination of issues where perhaps we aren’t deploying the correct resistance genes and we might have a new species of Phytophthora adding to the mix. You can learn more about managing Phytophthora root and stem rot of soybean in Wisconsin by clicking here. You will note that seed treatments can also be used to manage Phytophthora root and stem rot. You can click here to learn more about fungicide seed treatments and fungicide resistance in this group of organisms.

What’s Up with White Mold? For most of the state of Wisconsin, we are through the critical bloom time for infection by the white mold fungus. It is now really too late to make a fungicide application that is economically viable. However, scouting fields through August can help you determine what worked, what didn’t, and to figure out your harvest order. Remember, a great way to move the white mold fungus around is by contaminated combines at harvest. Start harvesting fields with no or low white mold incidence and work your way to those fields that look worse. Also consider cleaning combines between fields to limit movement of the fungal survival structures (a.k.a apothecia – the things that look like rat turds!) from one field to the next.

Look out for SDS. Now is also a good time to be scouting for sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soybeans. I’m not sure we will have a bunch of SDS this year in Wisconsin, but we will see pockets for sure. Knowing where you see it and what you did in 2021 can help with making variety and seed treatment decisions for 2022 and beyond. Remember that we do have decent partial resistance to SDS in many commercial varieties. Start here and choose the most resistant variety that fits your environment. Then consider layering a seed treatment (either Saltro or ILeVO) for improved management of SDS. You can learn more about seed treatment performance by studying the Fungicide Efficacy for Control of Soybean Seedling Diseases chart. You can also learn more about the performance of ILeVO in multi-state research trials by reading this report.

The Corn Situation

Corn in Wisconsin has been reasonably free of disease up to this point this season. However, we have noted a few foliar diseases beginning to pop up. We have observed gray leaf spot (GLS) becoming easy to find in most fields, while northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) is starting to show up in a handful of fields we have visited. We are also paying close attention to the tar spot and southern rust situations, I’ll expand on these below.

How bad is tar spot? The Tarspotter app has been running at moderate to high risk of tar spot increase over the last couple of weeks in Wisconsin. Our scouting has confirmed that tar spot is present in at least 5 counties so far in Wisconsin (Fig. 2). All but Grant County show tar spot to be easy to find, but it is present in the lower canopy at low severity. In Grant County, we had to hunt a long time to find 2 spots in a research field on a known susceptible. These observations align with Tarspotter as it indicated just moderate risk in the southwest quadrant of Wisconsin, with high risk from south central to the north. If you plan on spraying a fungicide to manage tar spot, we recommend that this be done soon, prior to the R3/R4 growth stage. The goal here is to protect the leaves from the ear leaf up from continued increase by the fungus. If you would like to learn more about tar spot check out the new web book published by the Crop Protection Network.

Figure 2. County-level confirmations of tar spot in the U.S. as of August 2, 2021.

Continue to scout for tar spot and let us know what you are finding. We are now accepting good pictures of tar spot to confirm its presence in counties where we have observed it in years past, in Wisconsin. In counites that tar spot has never been confirmed, we would like to get a physical sample to verify (Fig 2). Feel free to reach out to me if you do find tar spot or any other disease of corn or soybean for that matter.

Figure 3. County-level confirmations of southern rust on corn in the U.S. as of August 2, 2021.

Has southern rust hit Wisconsin yet? The short answer is NO, not that we can find. We have scouted and asked several folks in our network, and nobody has observed and lab-confirmed southern rust in Wisconsin. However, figure 3 show county-level confirmations of southern rust of corn in the U.S. Based on this map, I would not be surprised if southern rust is confirmed in the next week or so in Wisconsin. Like tar spot, fungicides can be applied up to the R3/R4 growth stage with some benefits. Spraying after R4 will not yield economic returns. To learn more about managing southern rust of corn, check out the electronic fact sheet from the Crop Protection Network.

Keep an eye on the soybean and corn disease situation and scout, scout, scout. Let us know what you are finding!

Wisconsin Soybean and Corn Disease Update – July 7, 2021

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

Brian Mueller, Assistant Field Researcher, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

Soybean White Mold Update

Figure 1. White mold risk for Wisconsin on July 7, 2021 from the Sporecaster smartphone app.

Figure 1 illustrates the calculated risk of white mold for select Wisconsin locations for non-irrigated soybeans, as determined by Sporecaster for July 7, 2021. This means that if soybeans are flowering and the area between rows is filled in more than 50%, risk is just moderate in most locations of the state, with the exception of the far northeast portions of the state. This moderate risk indicates that there may not be apothecia present in fields in these locations at this time, however, the situation needs to be monitored closely as we move from R1 to the R2 growth stage. With a cooler, wetter weather pattern over the next 5-7 days, I believe that the risk for white mold will increase. I’m expecting a later onset (closer to the R3 growth stage) of white mold for much of the state in 2021. Warmer weather up to this point has pushed the risk of white mold potentially later in the bloom period.

Current White Mold Management Recommendation

I wrote extensively about white mold management in my previous post. Take some time to read the management recommendations there. I think folks should be patient yet monitor the situation carefully over the next several weeks. Again, if calculated risk continues to rise, then a fungicide application may be warranted as we progress through the bloom period. Be sure to download the Sporecaster app to get tailored recommendations for your fields. You can also adjust the action thresholds in the app (my map above is set at the default 40% threshold) and run specific models for irrigated environments.

Corn Tar Spot Update

Figure 2. Tar spot risk for Wisconsin on July 7, 2021 based on the Tarspotter smartphone app.

Figure 2 shows the calculated risk from Tarspotter (our smartphone prediction tool for tar spot) for July 7, 2021, for various locations in Wisconsin. The action threshold for high risk is 40% using the updated Tarspotter model for 2021. As you can see, the present risk is high for much of the state. Cooler, wet conditions over the next week will keep risk moderate to high. We have scouted several locations in Wisconsin and have been unable to find tar spot at this time in the state. However, figure 3 shows that tar spot has been found in some surrounding states, at low levels.

Current Tar Spot Management Recommendation

Monitoring Tarspotter (be sure to download it to your smartphone) and scouting should be done at this time to determine the diseases present. Tracking this situation, not only for tar spot but other corn diseases, will also help you make an in-season fungicide spray decision as we approach the very important VT/R1 growth stage. For more on making the decision to spray fungicide on corn, see my previous post. Get out and scout, scout, scout!

Figure 3. Confirmed tar spot cases in the U.S. as of July 7, 2021.

Fireworks Fly! Time to Think about White Mold Management in Soybeans in Wisconsin

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

Shawn Conley, Extension Soybean and Small Grains Agronomist, Department of Agronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

Paul Mitchell, Extension Economist, Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Figure 1. Apothecia, a small mushroom-like structure of the white mold fungus that give rise to spores, which infect soybean flowers.

In Wisconsin, the first week of July brings us a heightened awareness of white mold in soybeans, and its management. The 2020 season in Wisconsin resulted in just pockets of white mold in the state. However, now is not the time to be complacent. If the weather becomes conducive in 2021, the situation could be much different than last year.

Remember that the white mold fungus infects soybeans through open and senescing flowers, by spores that are born from small mushroom-like structures called apothecia (Fig. 1). Remember that if the bloom period gets extended due to cool weather, this can lead to an extended window for infection by the fungus. Often cool weather is a double whammy as it is good for the white mold fungus and slows down soybean crop development, thereby extending bloom.

While conditions have been hot and dry in parts of the state, we are seeing cooler and wetter conditions over the last week. The white mold situation can change rapidly based on weather, thus anticipating favorable conditions for white mold, can help you protect your soybean crop.

Predicting White Mold

The flowering growth stages are a critical time to manage white mold in-season. You can view a fact sheet and new video on the subject. As you probably know, timing in-season fungicide sprays at the correct time during the soybean bloom period can be extremely difficult. To help solve this decision-making issue, models were developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in conjunction with Michigan State University and Iowa State University to identify at-risk regions which have been experiencing weather favorable for the development of white mold apothecia. These models predict when apothecia will be present in the field using combinations of 30-day averages of maximum temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed. Using virtually available weather data, predictions can be made in most soybean growing regions. To facilitate precise predictions and make the model user-friendly, we use Sporecaster smartphone application for Android and iPhone.

Figure 2. Sporecaster predictions for selected non-irrigated locations in Wisconsin for June 29, 2021

The purpose of the smartphone app is to assist farmers in making early season management decisions for white mold in soybean. The best time to spray fungicides for white mold is during flowering (R1 and R3 growth stages) when apothecia are present on the soil surface.

Sporecaster uses university research to turn a few simple taps on a smartphone screen into an instant forecast of the risk of apothecia being present in a soybean field, which helps growers predict the best timing for white mold treatment during the flowering period.

University research has indicated that the appearance of apothecia can be predicted using weather data and a threshold of percent soybean canopy row closure in a field. Based on these predictions and crop phenology, site-specific risk values are generated for three scenarios (non-irrigated soybeans, soybeans planted on 15″ row-spacing and irrigated, or soybeans planted on 30″ row-spacing and irrigated). Though not specifically tested we would expect row-spacings of 22 inches or less to have a similar probability response to fungicide as the 15 inch row-spacing.

The Sclerotinia apothecial models that underlie the Sporecaster prediction tool have undergone significant validation in both small test plots and in commercial production fields. In 2017, efficacy trials were conducted at agricultural research stations in Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin to identify fungicide application programs and thresholds for model implementation. Additionally, apothecial scouting and disease monitoring were conducted in a total of 60 commercial farmer fields in Michigan, Nebraska, and Wisconsin between 2016 and 2017 to evaluate model accuracy across the growing region. Across all irrigated and non-irrigated locations predictions during the soybean flowering period (R1 to early R4 growth stages) were found to explain end-of-season disease observations with an accuracy of 81.8% using the established probability thresholds now programmed in the app. We have made additional improvements for 2021, to further refine accuracy. So if you have used Sporecaster before, you might want to check the version in the “Help and Info” button to be sure you have version 1.4 of the  Sporecaster. If you want to learn more about the science of Sporecaster, check out the embedded video below.

Not only can users run predictions of risk during the soybean bloom period for any field, you can also set up visual maps to look at multiple sites simultaneously. An example for the state of Wisconsin can be found in figure 2, which represents risk for June 29, 2021 for non-irrigated soybeans. Currently, if soybeans are flowering, risk is moderate to low in much of Wisconsin for non-irrigated soybeans, due to the recent hot and dry weather. In the north-eastern portions of the state, risk for flowering soybeans is higher due to more frequent rain events that have occurred there. Check back to this blog regularly as I will post maps like these with interpretation of risk for Wisconsin as we move through the season.

What to Spray for White Mold?

If you have decided to spray soybeans for white mold, what are the best products to use? Over the last several years we have run numerous fungicide efficacy trials in Wisconsin and in conjunction with researchers in other states. In Wisconsin, we have observed that Endura applied as a single application at 8 oz between the R1 and R2 growth stage performs well. We have also observed that the fungicide Aproach applied at 9 fl oz at R1 and again at R3 also performs comparably to the Endura treatment. Other fungicide options also include Omega and Proline. You can view results of past fungicide evaluations for Wisconsin by CLICKING HERE.If you would like to run tailored estimations of return on investment for various fungicide programs, you can use another smartphone application called Sporebuster.

What is Sporebuster?

When a fungicide application is needed to control white mold in soybeans, Sporebuster can help determine a profitable program. You enter your expected soybean price, expected yield, and treatment cost. Sporebuster instantly compares ten different treatment plans at once to determine average net gain and breakeven probability of each. You can mark, save and share by email, the best plans for your farming operation.

The purpose of Sporebuster is to assist soybean farmers in making a fungicide program decision that is profitable for their operation. Sporebuster is meant to complement Sporecaster. Once Sporecaster recommends a fungicide application, Sporebuster can be used to determine a profitable program.

Information that drives Sporebuster is based on research from 2009-2016 from across the upper Midwestern US. Statistical models were developed based on these data that included white mold pressure and yield response from fungicide for 10 common fungicide programs. Details about the research behind Sporebuster can be found by CLICKING HERE.

Helpful Smartphone Application Links

Sporecaster

  1. Click here to download the Android version of Sporecaster. 
  2. Click here to download the iPhone version of Sporecaster.

Sporebuster

  1. Click here to download the Android version of Sporebuster.
  2. Click here to download the iPhone version of Sporebuster.
  3. Here is a video on how to use Sporebuster and interpret the output.

Other Resources

  1. To watch an in-depth video on white mold management, CLICK HERE.
  2. To find more information and download a fact sheet on white mold from the Crop Protection Network, CLICK HERE.

Scientific References

  1. Willbur, J.F., Fall, M.L., Blackwell, T., Bloomingdale, C.A., Byrne, A.M., Chapman, S.A., Holtz, D., Isard, S.A., Magarey, R.D., McCaghey, M., Mueller, B.D., Russo, J.M., Schlegel, J., Young, M., Chilvers, M.I., Mueller, D.S., and Smith, D.L. Weather-based models for assessing the risk of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum apothecial presence in soybean (Glycine max) fields. Plant Disease. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-04-17-0504-RE
  2. Willbur, J.F.,Fall, M.L., Byrne, A.M., Chapman, S.A., McCaghey, M.M., Mueller, B.D., Schmidt, R., Chilvers, M.I., Mueller, D.S., Kabbage, M., Giesler, L.J., Conley, S.P., and Smith, D.L. Validating Sclerotinia sclerotiorumapothecial models to predict Sclerotinia stem rot in soybean (Glycine max) fields. Plant Disease. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-02-18-0245-RE.
  3. Fall, M., Willbur, J., Smith, D.L., Byrne, A., and Chilvers, M. 2018. Spatiotemporal distribution pattern of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum apothecia is modulated by canopy closure and soil temperature in an irrigated soybean field. Phytopathology. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-11-17-1821-RE.
  4. Willbur, J.F., Mitchell, P.D., Fall, M.L., Byrne, A.M., Chapman, S.A., Floyd, C.M., Bradley, C.A., Ames, K.A., Chilvers, M.I., Kleczewski, N.M., Malvick, D.K., Mueller, B.D., Mueller, D.S., Kabbage, M., Conley, S.P., and Smith, D.L. 2019. Meta-analytic and economic approaches for evaluation of pesticide impact on Sclerotinia stem rot control and soybean yield in the North Central U.S. Phytopathology. https://doi.org/10.1094/PHYTO-08-18-0289-R.

Insights on In-Season Corn Disease Management Decisions For the 2021 Season

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

Corn is approaching the V6-V10 range of growth stages in much of Wisconsin. With this, comes many questions about applying fungicide to control disease and preserve yield. What diseases are out there? What disease(s) should I focus on in-season? When should I spray? What should I spray? On top of these questions, we are also confronted with corn prices, which are notably optimistic this year, making folks think more about fungicide applications. So what should we consider for in-season disease management? Lets consider the diseases first, then the management decisions.

Figure 1. NCLB Lesions on a corn leaf

Northern Corn Leaf Blight (NCLB): The most diagnostic symptom of NCLB is the long, slender, cigar-shaped, gray-green to tan lesions that develop on leaves (Fig. 1).  Disease often begins on the lower leaves and works it way to the top leaves.  This disease is favored by cool, wet, rainy weather. Higher levels of disease might be expected in fields with a previous history of NCLB and/or fields that have been in continuous and no-till corn production. The pathogen over-winters in corn residue, therefore, the more residue on the soil surface the higher the risk for NCLB.  Management should focus on using resistant hybrids and residue management.  In-season management is available in the form of several fungicides that are labeled for NCLB. However, these fungicides should be applied at the early onset of the disease and only if the epidemic is expected to get worse.

While I hate talking about threshold levels for managing disease, it can be helpful in your decision making process to know what might be severe. While scouting look in the lower portion of the canopy. If some symptoms are present in the lower canopy, make a visual estimation of how frequent (percentage of plants with lesions) NCLB is in a particular area and how severe (how much leaf area is covered by NCLB lesions.  The lower leaves aren’t responsible for much yield accumulation in corn, but spores produced in NCLB lesions on these leaves can be splashed up to the ear leaves where disease can be very impactful. So by scouting the lower canopy and getting an idea of how much disease is present, you can “predict” what might happen later on the ear-leaves to make an informed spray decision.

Figure 2: A computer simulation of 5% NCLB severity on a corn leaf.

The other consideration you should make while scouting is the resistance rating that the hybrid has for NCLB. If it is rated as resistant, then NCLB severity might not be predicted to get very severe, while in  a susceptible hybrid, NCLB might be present on 50% or more of plants at high severity levels. Note however, that even if a hybrid is rated as resistant, it can still get some disease. Resistance isn’t immunity! If NCLB is present on on at least half the plants and severity is at least 5-10% and weather is forecast to be rainy and cool, a fungicide application will likely be needed to manage the disease. So what does 5% leaf severity look like? Figure 2 is a computer generated image that shows 5% of the corn leaf with NCLB lesions. You can use this image to train your brain to visually estimate how severe the disease might be on a particular leaf. As for fungicide choice and timing, I consider that further below.

Figure 3. Gray Leaf Spot lesions on a corn leaf.

Gray Leaf Spot (GLS): Gray leaf spot typically starts as small blocky or jagged, light tan spots. These can expand to become long, narrow, rectangular lesions (Fig. 3) that may have yellow or orange halos around them. Gray leaf spot is typically worse when temperatures are warm and humidity is frequently above 90%. Thus, in Wisconsin, this disease is generally more frequent in the southern and southeastern portion of the state. Conditions that favor GLS often do not favor NCLB. The GLS pathogen and NCLB pathogen have different temperature requirements. Yield loss from GLS will be the greatest if lesions develop on the ear-leaves right before and right after tasseling. Like NCLB, hybrids rated as susceptible will generally suffer greater yield reductions due to gray leaf spot. Management of GLS should focus on choosing hybrids with excellent resistance and managing corn residue. Corn residue allows the pathogen to overwinter.

Like NCLB, fungicides can also be used to manage gray leaf spot. However, these should be applied as preventative applications. Thus, using the same rule of thumb to make a spray decision for GLS as for NCLB can help you make the decision to spray fungicide. As for fungicide choice and timing, I will also consider that further below.

Figure 4. Tar Spot Signs and Symptoms on Corn Leaves

Tar Spot: Tar spot is favored by cool conditions (60-70 F) and high relative humidity (averages above 75%). Over the last several seasons the tar spot pathogen, Phyllachora maydis, has been able to cause yield reductions in parts of the Midwest by itself. There seems to be no need for a second fungus, Monographella maydis to be present to cause “fisheye” symptoms along with severe necrosis and early dry down. In addition, work done in the Midwest shows that the tar spot fungus can overwinter on corn residue from the previous season. So like with NCLB and GLS fields with high levels of infested residue might be more prone to infection by the tar spot fungus.

Not a lot is known about hybrid resistance to tar spot. Losses as high as 50-60 bushels per acre have been recorded on some hybrids, while others in the same field were only marginally affected. Partial resistance might be present in Midwest on certain corn hybrids. However work is ongoing to understand which hybrids those might be. Fungicide applications have been shown to reduce tar spot levels. However, timing of application must coincide with disease onset and product choice is important. Mixed-mode-of action fungicides have been the most consistent in efficacy over the past several seasons (more on that below). More information on tar spot can be found by in the Tar Spot Electronic Book.

Figure 5. Eyespot symptoms on a corn leaf.

Eyespot: Eyespot typically first develops as very small pen-tipped sized lesions that appear water-soaked.  As the lesions mature they become larger (¼ inch in diameter) become tan in the center and have a yellow halo (Fig. 5).  Lesions can be numerous and spread from the lower leaves to upper leaves. In severe cases, lesions may grow together and can cause defoliation and/or yield reduction. Eyespot is also favored by cool, wet, and frequently rainy conditions.  No-till and continuous corn production systems can also increase the risk for eyespot, as the pathogen is borne on corn residue on the soil surface.  Management should focus on the use of resistant hybrids and residue management.  In-season management is available in the form of fungicides. Severity has to reach high levels (>50%) before this disease begins to impact yield. I often have eyespot present in my corn trials each year as we plant into continuous corn and use no-till. However, we typically do not see yield reductions from this disease even in non-sprayed plots. When scouting, note the disease and keep track of the severity. Again, fungicides should be applied early in the epidemic and may not be cost effective for this disease alone.

What Disease(s) Should I Focus on In-Season? Based on the information above, the greatest emphasis for Wisconsin should be placed on controlling NCLB, GLS, and tar spot (what I call the ‘Corn Foliar Disease Trifecta!). Most hybrids planted in Wisconsin will be resistant to eyespot.

What Should I Spray, and When Should I Spray for Corn Foliar Diseases In Wisconsin? Fungicide should be used to preserve yield and reduce disease level. There is no silver bullet fungicide out there for all corn diseases. However, there are many products which work well on a range of diseases. The Corn Fungicide Efficacy table lists products that have been rigorously evaluated in university research trials across the country. You can see there are several products listed that perform well on NCLB, GLS, and tar spot. So obviously, if a disease is present and you are trying to control the disease, you might expect more return on your investment, compared to simply spraying fungicide and hoping that there might be a yield increase.

Paul et al. (2011) conducted research to investigate the return on investment (ROI) of using fungicide at low and elevated levels of disease. Data from 14 states between 2002 and 2009 were used in the analysis. They looked at 4 formulations of fungicide products across all of these trials. I won’t go into detail about all products, but will focus on one here, pyraclostrobin. This is the active ingredient in Headline® Fungicide. In all, 172 trials were evaluated in the analysis and Paul et al. found that on average there was a 4.08 bu/acre increase in corn grain yield when pyraclostrobin was used. So there does appear to be some increase in yield with the use of fungicide over not treating across a range of environments.

Figure 6. Average yield preservation of QoI+DMI fungicide applications over not-treating across the U.S. corn belt at the V6, Vt, and V6+VT application timing.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at Corn Fungicide Return on Investment (ROI): In our current market, what are the odds that we might break even on a fungicide application in 2021? Today’s corn future price for September has a bushel of corn above $5.00. While most of the early work on fungicide use in corn has focused on Headline® Fungicide, much of the industry has transitioned to using multi-mode-of-action products. These would be products mostly containing strobilurin (QoI), triazole (DMI), and/or succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicides in the same jug. Details about fungicides and fungicide mode of action can be found on the Fungicides for Field Crops Information Page. Products such as Headline AMP® or Quilt Xcel® would fall into the QoI + DMI category. These combination products have also been fairly consistent in response in my fungicide trials. You can find summaries of these trial results here. If we consider using Quit Xcel® at 10.5 fl oz or Headline AMP® at 10.0 fl oz, the list pricing of the products plus adding aerial application costs, result in a range of cost of $20 – $30 per acre to make the applications at VT. If we can sell corn for at least $5.00 per bushel then we would need to preserve 4 bu/acre to 6 bu/a in yield over not treating to break even! 

In a recent analysis of corn yield data where DMI+QOI products were applied at the tasseling period (VT) across the entire corn belt, the average yield preservation over not treating was 7.20 bu/a (Fig. 6). Thus, with the strong corn prices projected this fall, there could be some opportunity to come out ahead with a fungicide application, especially if forecasted rain events come to fruition and make disease issues increase. The projected probability of breaking even in the current economy with $5.00/bu corn is between 68% and 70% (Fig. 7). If we can sell our corn for a better price or make the applications cheaper, then the odds will continue to improve. We also know that in Wisconsin, the odds of breaking even improve further if NCLB or GLS are active and increasing during the tasseling period. Get out there and scout!

Figure 7. Probability of Breaking Even Based on Data from Across the U.S. (VT Application Timing)

So What About Fungicide Application Timing? We can investigate this question over the U.S. corn belt using the same dataset. Applications focused on an early (V6) timing, a VT-R2 timing, or a combination of V6 plus a VT-R2 application. Let’s again focus on the QoI+DMI products. Based on observations across the corn belt the V6 timing averaged almost 3 bu/a of preserved yield over not treating (Fig. 6). The VT application resulted in nearly 7.2 bu/a in preserved yield, while the two-pass program only offered a little over 8 bu/a. Clearly the higher average yield preservation occurs using a single application of fungicide at the VT-R2 timing. Wisconsin data has been consistent with this observation. Thus it is recommended that a single application of fungicide be used around the VT-R2 growth stages, when NCLB or GLS are active and increasing on or near the ear leaves.

What About Silage Corn and Ear Rot? When it comes to ear rot control and reducing the accumulation of mycotoxins in grain or silage corn, fungicide application should be made when white silks are out. Spores of fungicide that generally cause mycotoxin issues in the grain portion of corn will infect the plant through silks. Thus, apply fungicides during silking or within 5-10 days after silking starts, can be beneficial. Note that if the goal is to target mycotoxin production and reduce deoxynivalenol (DON) accumulation in the grain portion of the plant, products containing a DMI component should be used. Results where QoI + DMI products were used on silage corn can be found in our 2019 Fungicide Test Summary and again in our 2020 Fungicide Test Summary.

Finally, be aware that in some cases, application of fungicide in combination with nonionic surfactant (NIS) at growth stages between V8 and VT in hybrid field corn can result in a phenomenon known as arrested ear development. The damage is thought to be caused by the combination of NIS and fungicide and not by the fungicide alone. To learn more about this issue, you can CLICK HERE and download a fact sheet from Purdue Extension that covers the topic nicely. Considering that the best response out of a fungicide application seems to be between VT-R2, and the issues with fungicide plus NIS application between V8 and VT, I would suggest holding off for any fungicide applications until at least VT. If you want to spray earlier than VT, keep the NIS out of the tank!

Summary

As we approach the critical time to make decisions about in-season disease management on corn, it is important to consider all factors at play while trying to determine if a fungicide is right for your corn operation in 2021. Here is what you should consider:

1) Corn hybrid disease resistance score for NCLB and GLS (and perhaps tar spot too, if known) – Resistant hybrids may not have high levels of disease which impact yield.

2) Get out of the truck and SCOUT, SCOUT, SCOUT – Consider how much disease and the level of severity of disease present in the lower canopy prior to tassel.

3) Consider weather conditions prior to, and during, the VT-R2 growth stages – if weather is conducive for NCLB, GLS, and or tar spot then disease may continue to increase in corn and a fungicide application might be necessary. If it turns out to be hot and dry, disease development will stop and a fungicide application would not be needed.

4) Consider your costs to apply a fungicide and the price you can sell your corn grain – Will you preserve enough yield out of the fungicide application to cover its cost? The 2021 season is looking decent to break even on that investment, but this is not the norm.

5) Hold off with making your fungicide application in Wisconsin until corn has reached the VT-R2 growth stages – The best foliar disease control and highest likelihood of a positive ROI will occur when fungicide is applied during this timing when high levels of disease are likely.

6) Be aware that every time you use a fungicide you are likely selecting for corn pathogen populations that will become resistant to a future fungicide application – Make sure your fungicide application is worth this long-term risk. See fact sheet A3878 below for more information.

Other Resources

Impact of foliar fungicide timing and fungicide class on corn yield response in the United States and Ontario, Canada

Fact Sheet: A3878 – Fungicide Resistance Management in Corn, Soybeans, and Wheat in Wisconsin

VIDEO: Researching Fungicide Applications for Grain-Corn, Effect on Yield & Cost Recovery

References

Groves, C.L., Kleczewski, N.M., Telenko, D.E.P., Chilvers, M.I., and Smith, D.L. 2020. Phyllachora maydisascospore release and germination from overwintered corn residue. Plant Health Progress. https://doi.org/10.1094/PHP-10-19-0077-RS.

Munkvold, G.P. and White, D.G., editors. 2016. Compendium of Corn Diseases, Fourth Edition. APS Press.

Paul, P. A., Madden, L. V., Bradley, C. A., Robertson, A. E., Munkvold, G. P., Shaner, G., Wise, K. A., Malvick, D. K., Allen, T. W., Grybauskas, A., Vincelli, P., and Esker, P. 2011. Meta-analysis of yield response of hybrid field corn to foliar fungicides in the U.S. Corn Belt. Phytopathology 101:1122-1132.

Wise, K., Mueller, D., Sisson, A., Smith, D., Bradley, and Robertson, A., editors. 2016. A Farmer’s Guide to Corn Diseases. APS Press.

Wise, K.A. and Smith, D.L., Freije, A., Mueller, D.S., Kandel, Y., Allen, T., Bradley, C.A., Byamukama, E., Chilvers, M., Faske, T., Friskop, A., Hollier, C., Jackson-Ziems, Kelly, H., Kemerait, B., Price, P., Robertson, A., and Tenuta, A. 2019. Meta-analysis of yield response of foliar fungicide-treated hybrid corn in the United States and Ontario, Canada. PLoS ONE 14(6): e0217510. https://doi.org/ 10.1371/journal.pone.0217510.

Wisconsin Winter Wheat Disease Update – May 28, 2021

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

Figure 1. Fusarium head blight risk for susceptible winter wheat varieties for Wisconsin as of May 28, 2021.

Winter wheat in Southern and South-central Wisconsin is quickly approaching anthesis. By early next week the window of opportunity to apply fungicide for Fusarium head blight (FHB; scab) will be here. Currently the risk for FHB is variable and ranges from low to high depending on where you are in the state (Figure 1). Given the recent rain events and rising temperatures, I think the risk is there for FHB next week. This situation should be monitored closely and a timely fungicide application decision should be made. In my previous post, I talk about how to manage FHB.  There are essentially three options for products in Wisconsin for control of FHB. These include Prosaro, Caramba, and Miravis Ace. All also have efficacy against other foliar diseases too. Remember, your window of opportunity to spray for FHB ranges from the start of anthesis (flowering) to about 7 days after the start of anthesis.

Stripe rust still remains unidentified in the state. Confirmed reports of stripe rust are only as close as central Illinois (Figure 2). Continue to remain diligent in scouting for this disease. Remember that fungicides for control of FHB will also be efficacious for stripe rust. Thus, we should be able to “kill two birds with one stone” when spraying for FHB.

Figure 2. Confirmed stripe rust reports for the U.S. as of May 28, 2021.

Reports of powdery mildew continue to come in.  Remember that the FHB fungicide treatments will control this disease. So at this point, two applications of fungicide are not needed. A well-timed FHB-focused fungicide app should help slow powdery mildew.

Get out there and scout, scout, scout!