Recapping the Challenges of 2018

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According to the USDA Crop Progress report issued on August 20, 2018, 68 percent of the nation’s corn crop is in good to excellent condition. In soybeans, 65 percent of the crop was rated good or excellent.

While these numbers share great news for farmers, they don’t reflect the way 2018 started. BASF Technical Marketing Manager, Dr. Josh Miller, shared some insight into the headlines from 2018 to help paint the picture for how we got to where we are today.

“One of the biggest challenges of 2018 was the spring,” he says. “Across key corn and soybean growing areas we had a slow start to the planting season. It was unseasonably cold and wet in many areas.”

In spite of the challenges back in the spring, Miller says the long-term effects have been minimized and both corn and soybeans continue to progress well. “Most crops were planted within the usual time window,” he says, “and the crop progress reports indicate the crop has caught up throughout the growing season.”

Disease pressure has been another factor in 2018. “In corn we definitely saw significant outbreaks of gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight,” says Miller. “These diseases are perennial problems in corn because the disease pathogen is always there, and under the right conditions you can see outbreaks that can have a significant impact on yield.”

Target spot continued to be a troublesome disease in soybeans in 2018. “It’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue in southern soybeans in the Delta, Mid-South and Southeast,” says Miller. “Again, the pathogen survives in crop residue, so it’s always there, waiting for the right conditions to take off.” 

To scout most effectively for target spot, Miller recommends examining the lower canopy, where disease symptoms will manifest first. “It’s hard to detect because it’s lower in the canopy – but if it’s not treated it can cause significant defoliation in the lower canopy, which can greatly impact yields.”

Another disease impacting soybeans in 2018 has been frog eye leaf spot. “We have several concerns with frog eye leaf spot,” Miller explains. “We’re seeing an increase in prevalence across soybean growing regions as its being detected not just in the southern growing geographies anymore, but also in Ohio, Nebraska and even the Dakotas.”

Plant stress has also been a factor in both corn and soybeans in 2018. “We had many areas that were very hot and dry during vegetative stages, while in other areas we had a tremendous amount of precipitation,” explains Miller. “For the corn and soybean plants, it’s all stress. So we want to help the plants tolerate those kinds of stresses.”

Studies show that when a proactive application of Headline AMP® fungicide on corn, and Priaxor® fungicide on soybeans has been made, these BASF Plant Health products provide proven benefits which help protect the crops against disease pressure in addition to tolerating stress better and growing more efficiently. A key factor is that these products help shut down ethylene production in stressed plants, which is important to growth efficiency and protecting yield potential. “In row crops, ethylene can cause leaf senescence, it can cause kernels to abort in corn or pod drop in soybeans,” said Miller.

With harvest around the corner, the yield monitors will soon indicate the ROI of fungicide applications to your customers who made proactive applications of fungicides like Headline AMP and Priaxor. With the many ups and downs this season, those who have been proactive with their fungicide applications have likely weathered the unpredictability of Mother Nature better than those who haven’t.  

To learn more about the benefits of Headline AMP and Priaxor fungicides, talk to your local BASF representative or visit


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