2018: A Roller Coaster of Challenges for Corn Growers

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The 2018 growing season started off unseasonably cold and wet in many areas. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the average April temperature across the U.S. was 48.9°F, 2.2° below average, making April 2018 the 13th coldest April in the organization’s 124 years of tracking. The April snow cover across the contiguous U.S. was the fifth largest on record for April and the largest since 1997.

Icy April was followed by the warmest May in NOAA’s 124-year history. According to BASF Technical Marketing Agronomist Jeremy Hogan, the bountiful sunshine and warm temperatures helped the crop “catch up.”

“We saw a very rapid acceleration of growing degree days throughout the month of May, which put us ahead approximately 300 GDUs (Growing Degree Units),” Hogan explains. “We actually went into July, pollination time, about 300 GDUs ahead of average.”

Late June and early July saw warm temperatures and high humidity in many areas – setting the stage for disease outbreaks. Hogan says predominant diseases were gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, physoderma brown spot and a new fungal disease – tar spot.

“Tar spot is starting to show up in northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, into eastern Iowa, Michigan and Ohio,” Hogan reports. “It’s a pretty nasty disease that the whole industry still has a lot to learn about. As we went into late grain fill, we sawearly senescence in many of those geographies, where it killed the crop within a matter of days.”

In addition to disease pressure, in some areas corn faced other stressors such as high nighttime temperatures and moisture stress . This is where using Headline AMP® fungicide can make a significant difference by providing BASF Plant Health benefits and reducing both biotic (disease) stress and abiotic (environmental) stresses.

At night, plants respire to produce energy, which uses up the reserves they built during the day via photosynthesis.  When nighttime temperatures increase, the rate of respiration increases thus reducing the sugars and starches available for grain fill.  In addition, high nighttime temperatures can reduce the grain fill period, as the plant matures more quickly.  Headline AMP fungicide controls foliar fungal diseases by inhibiting respiration in the fungal mitochondria.  It also has the ability to reduce mitochondrial respiration in the plant.  So plants treated with Headline AMP fungicide were able to tolerate high nighttime temperatures more effectively by reducing corn respiration leading to extended grain fill and yield.

Reducing stress on the plant also allows it to photosynthesize more efficiently, even on cloudy days – which can be critical during grain fill. “Research has shown that corn treated with Headline AMP fungicide maintains a much higher photosynthetic rate than untreated plants on cloudy days,” says Hogan, which can lead to extended grain fill.

“If we extend grain fill from 56 days to 63 days, that’s a big deal,” says Hogan. Hogan’s research has shown that each day of extended grain fill can increase yield by 1 percent to 1.5 percent. University research supports this finding. A 2012 Iowa State University study concluded that for every day that grain fill is extended, yields could be increased by as much as 3 percent. In a 2016 BASF study, in the absence of disease and stress, Headline AMP fungicide increased grain fill from 55 to 61 days, resulting in a 10.7 bu/A yield increase*.

Through complete stress mitigation, Headline AMP fungicide can help the plant can grow more efficiently, extending the grain fill period, which means more bushels and  increased profitability.

To learn more about the benefits of Headline AMP fungicide, visit GrowSmartCorn.com or talk to your local BASF representative.


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*Results may vary
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