In-furrow fungicides are still relatively new to the corn market, so growers may be considering if they need the added protection of an in-furrow application.
“Many growers think if they are using a seed treatment, why would they need to put another fungicide treatment down in-furrow,” says Dr. Fred Below, professor of plant physiology at the University of Illinois. “Seed treatments are very good, but here’s the distinction: they protect the seed. An in-furrow fungicide protects the seedling, which is a real advantage.”
Chemical seed treatments’ duration of protection lasts through seed germination. However, with an in-furrow application, a grower can as much as triple the length of fungicidal protection and protect a larger area of influence in the soil where the early-season corn seedling is developing, he says.
“Think about young plants; it’s a vulnerable period in their life, and a little damage goes a long way,” explains Dr. Below. “A spring like we are having in the Midwest is the perfect time for in-furrow application; it’s cold and wet. Especially in fields with a lot of residue for inoculum to interfere, that’s where growers will generally see the greatest benefit. That's not the only place, but those fields tend to see the most uneven emergence, so they see the greatest value of both the seed treatment and an in-furrow application.”
Importance of Healthy Seedlings and Healthy Roots
Protecting the seedling is important to achieving a crop’s yield potential and protecting growers’ seed investment.
“Growers can reach the highest yield when seeds emerge uniformly,” says Dr. Below. “When seeds are under early-season stress from pathogens, a field will have fewer plants emerge, so protecting the seedling from disease and stress is going to help overall emergence and uniform emergence, which sets the potential for high yield.”
The highest yield potential from the seed is when it’s still in the bag, and it’s all downhill after that, according to Dr. Below. Every day, multiple stresses chip away at yield potential, so getting seedlings and roots off to a good start is critical because it’s impossible to go back and make up for lost yield.
“Yield winners say, ‘a plant can never have a bad day,’” he says. “In my research, uniform emergence is incredibly important to yield potential. With an in-furrow fungicide, growers get longer protection, which means more plants emerge; they emerge faster; they emerge more uniformly. Plants are heathier and intercepting more light, so there’s more energy to distribute between the shoot and the root, which brings balance, and that helps create yield.”
Some in-furrow fungicide formulations require a Dosatron® system on the planter for application, while other formulations can be added right into the starter fertilizer.
“If a grower is already using a starter fertilizer, then the idea of an in-furrow fungicide is much more attractive,” says Dr. Below. “One of the reasons they are using the starter fertilizer is to get the plant off to a faster start, so by further protecting the seedling and roots, there’s often a synergy between Plant Health and plant nutrition, which can boost early growth even more.”
“BASF was one of the first leaders in in-furrow, and they came out with Xanthion®, which can go on with starter fertilizer,” he says. “Xanthion is a combination of a traditional chemical and a biological that complement each other and provide longer protection because it forms a protective sheath around the roots. If I’m going to use specialized equipment that’s probably why – to get more plants out of the ground and then protect those plants as long as I can.”
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Dosatron is a registered trademark of Dosatron International, Inc.
Xanthion is a registered trademark of BASF.