Why Fungicide Decisions Are Different in 2019

The unparalleled planting season of 2019 set up the rest of the year for high amounts of agronomic variability. 

Right now, as scouts are out in the field looking for yield threats, disease pressures are in the bulls’ eye.
Disease can greatly decrease yields, and it can really put a kink in a smooth-running harvest. 

While plant health benefits were helpful in selling fungicides when commodity prices were higher, maintaining stalk quality and standability are two ways to mitigate risks for a headache at harvest. And stay tuned to Extension for economic threshold updates.

Tar spot has only been identified in the U.S. since 2015, and even though it currently has been identified in six Midwest states, it’s been getting a lot of buzz as outbreaks in 2019 have been confirmed. And a recent report detailed that the disease could cause up to 38 bu. per acre losses.

That said, scouts, consultants and farmers should stay focused on all possible diseases and what’s presenting itself in the field. I’ve seen lots of confirmations on gray leaf spot and southern rust. 

Scouting and proper identification are important pieces for controlling disease. BASF quotes stats of fungicide applications in corn growing from 8.4 million in 2007 to 21.6 million in 2018. And soybean fungicide applications in soybeans grew from 4.6 million in 2007 to 18.8 million in 2018. 

When it comes to application options, BASF is brining a new tool to the market. And in their introduction, it’s interesting to note they are looking to rebuild farmer confidence in fungicide applications by emphasizing consistent performance and visible validation in how the plants appear after applications.

Along with new fungicide options from BASF and others, the aerial application industry has also expanded, which in turn opens the late season application window wider. 

In 2004, the maximum daily corn acres treated with an aircraft were 1,281 acres. But 2019, it’s estimated to be 1,925 acres. Learn more about the aerial application here. 

I also discussed more about this topic on AgriTalk with Chip Flory: