Lodged corn and weak, difficult-to-combine stalks can make the pressures of harvest season skyrocket for any grower. We talked with Dr. Kiersten Wise, Extension associate professor of plant pathology at the University of Kentucky, about how using a foliar fungicide like Headline AMP® fungicide can help improve cornstalk health and harvestability.
“The key benefit of using a foliar fungicide is that it protects the leaves of the corn at ear level and higher – those leaves are critically important for providing adequate photosynthesis for the plant,” she explains. “Therefore, foliar diseases become very important in this equation. If your corn has problems with foliar diseases it can reduce the photosynthetic capacity of those leaves, causing the plant to draw from the stalk to get through grain fill. And once it draws from the stalk, that leaves a weakened and compromised stalk that is prone to stalk rot organisms and lodging.”
Studies have shown that Headline AMP fungicide provides the most yield at tassel (+12 to 15 bu/A) compared to untreated check. This is because in addition to providing best-in-class preventative and post-infection disease control, Headline AMP fungicide also increases a plant’s stress tolerance and growth efficiency. This means healthier, greener plants that are less prone to stalk rots and lodging.
“There are other stresses that cause leaves to senesce early or draw nutrients from the stalk, which is called stalk cannibalization,” says Wise. “Your yield is in the grain and if the grain is on the ground, you can’t pick it up. If corn is lodged, harvest takes longer, you have to have special equipment [and] you have to go slowly through the field to pick up those lodged stalks and feed them into the combine, which slows harvest.”
Key to preserving stalk health is keeping the ear leaves and above on the corn plant green and healthy through the grain fill stage.
“Foliar fungicides like Headline AMP help protect against late-season foliar stresses, which means you have more harvestable corn,” explains Wise. “The fungicide is going to keep the leaves nice and green and protect against foliar diseases, which inhibit [the] photosynthetic capability of those leaves. Keeping leaves healthy, protecting against foliar diseases and having healthy leaves helps the corn ear fill without drawing on the stalk reserves.”
According to university experts, now is a key time to team up with your customers to begin regular inspections of fields that have endured multiple stresses throughout this growing year. According to this Purdue University publication, it’s important to monitor the health of the roots and lower parts of the stalk of plants. The following are some ways to evaluate stalk health:
- Push stalks away as you walk through the corn rows – see if they collapse or spring back to a normal, vertical position.
- Pinch lower stalk internodes. If these internodes give way or collapse, that could be a signal that stalk health has been compromised.
Always read and follow label directions
*Results may vary
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