Are Early, Vegetative Fungicide Applications Beneficial for Enhanced Corn Production? (Part I: Yield)

Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist
By Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist April 28, 2013 17:07

Are Early, Vegetative Fungicide Applications Beneficial for Enhanced Corn Production? (Part I: Yield)

The decision to apply a fungicide at vegetative timings is a difficult one.  Typically, disease is not a deciding factor and potential "plant health" benefits are the final decision maker.

The decision to apply a fungicide at vegetative timings is a difficult one. Typically, disease is not a deciding factor and potential “plant health” benefits are the final decision maker.

Since 2005, the more typical corn fungicide application timings have occurred when corn begins to tassel, between VT and R1.  However, over the past few years, aggressive marketing campaigns have shifted application strategies to vegetative-stages that range between V4 and V7 (depending on the literature and more specifically when the last over-the-top herbicide application may occur).  Data from university plant pathologists throughout the U.S. is lacking regarding earlier application timing strategies.  During 2012, the Mississippi Corn Promotion Board funded a project whereby fungicides were applied at vegetative timings (V6) in two different corn production systems.  Applications were made in Stoneville, MS in a field where continuous corn had been produced for five seasons but disease pressure has been limited.  The second location was west of Greenwood, MS and has had continuous corn production for more than six years with excessive gray leaf spot (GLS) pressure.

Seven different fungicides were applied (3 strobilurin products (Evito (4 oz), Headline (6 oz), Quadris (6 oz)), 3 pre-mix (strobilurin + triazole) products (Headline AMP (10 oz), Quilt Xcel (10.5 oz), Stratego YLD (4 oz)), and a 1 triazole product (Tilt (4 oz))) representing the major fungicide products used in corn production systems throughout the Mid-southern U.S.  Fungicides were applied both with and without glyphosate (22 fl oz/A of Roundup PowerMax) to serve as the adjuvant at the vegetative timing since the specific formulation is a “loaded” herbicide.  All applications were made at a general application rate of 15 gallons per acre.  Two different strategies were employed: one whereby the full rate of the product was applied in a vegetative application and one whereby a half rate of the fungicide was applied at the vegetative timing followed by a half rate at the traditional tassel timing.  Applications were also made to compare the differences between a vegetative application (V6), a tassel application (R1), and a vegetative followed by a tassel application (V6 fb R1).  This update will only pertain to the vegetative stage application timing and a second piece will cover the effect of a vegetative application on green snap.

Stoneville, MS Location:

In general, when averaged together, yield differed between fungicide treated and the control.  Fungicide performance at the Stoneville location (Figure 1A, 1B Figure 1 – Stoneville, MS corn fungicide project) was not consistent between products applied either with glyphosate at V6 or without glyphosate.  Disease incidence during the 2012 growing season in Stoneville was low.  However, limited disease pressure from common rust, northern corn leaf blight, and southern corn rust was observed in plots but generally speaking was less than 5%.

Greenwood, MS Location:

Similar to the Stoneville location, trials conducted west of Greenwood with the same products applied using the same two application strategies did not produce consistent results (Figure 2 Figure 2 – Greenwood, MS corn fungicide project).  One major difference at the Greenwood area location had to do with the level of disease throughout the season.  The location was chosen due to the consistent, no-till corn production system and several consecutive years of excessive gray leaf spot (GLS).  Plots were rated shortly after having received a fungicide application and the products chosen significantly reduced observable symptoms of GLS even at vegetative growth stages.  Rarely is GLS observed at vegetative timings.  Even in a situation where heavy disease pressure was present fungicide applications made at a V6 timing did not consistently improve yield compared to the control.

Fungicides are an important tool.  Maintaining the technology they provide is incredibly important for the future of agriculture.  Utilizing a fungicide to prevent yield loss as the result of a foliar fungal disease is a scenario whereby the product provides the most consistent response.  The “plant health” benefits following a foliar fungicide application reported across the U.S. by university scientists have proven to produce sporadic responses.  I realize that many different reports regarding the influence of an early fungicide application on: drought tolerance, stalk integrity, a reduction in aflatoxin accumulation, general plant health, and many other physiological impacts of the fungicide on the plant have been made over the past two seasons.  All of the suggested impacts are regardless of the presence of a particular foliar disease.  In addition, in most cases the previous crop is not considered to be an important issue when prescribing a vegetative stage fungicide application on a large number of acres.  Keep in mind, the results included in this post are from a single year of trials conducted at 2 locations (4 total trials).  In my opinion, and based on almost 7 years of trials conducted on corn in MS, I believe fungicides perform best when they are applied to affect a particular foliar disease.

Based on the information contained in the figures attached, fungicides did not provide a consistent response during the 2012 trials.  Additional trials will be conducted during the 2013 season at the same two locations to produce more data and attempt to answer important questions regarding the most efficient application timing and strategically place fungicides vegetative application timing situations where they could provide a benefit, such as in a situation where continuous, no-till corn with a prior history of foliar disease has occurred.


Print Friendly
Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist
By Tom Allen, Extension Plant Pathologist April 28, 2013 17:07
Write a comment

1 Comment

View comments

Write a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*

Subscribe to receive updates

  • 2015 Delta Area Rice Growers Meeting: November 5, 2015

    The 2015 Delta area/Bolivar Co. Rice Meeting will be held at the Bolivar Co. Extension office on November 5, 2015. Mississippi rice producers, industry professionals, and other interested parties are ...
  • 2015 Rice On-Farm Variety Trial Preliminary Data

    Find below the Preliminary version of the 2015 On-Farm Rice Variety Trial. During 2015, small plot rice variety trials were conducted near the following locations; Choctaw, Clarksdale, Hollandale, Ruleville, Shaw, ...
  • 2015 MSU Short List of Suggested Wheat Varieties

    This publication lists those wheat varieties which have demonstrated superior productivity in the Mississippi Wheat and Oat Variety Trials and summarizes their characteristics. This impartial information should help you better assess wheat varieties which are best suited for your farm. ...
  • 2015 Cotton Varieties Planted Report

    The United States Department of Agriculture – Agriculture Marketing Service released the 2015 Cotton Varieties Planted Report on September 15, 2015.  Mississippi cotton growers planted 29% of the total state ...
  • Are Late-Season Soybean Rust Observations Important?

    Late-season soybean rust observations occur on almost an annual basis. Even though the majority of the soybean crop has escaped yield loss as a result of soybean rust again for the 2015 season, determining the extent of the disease in MS as well as potential locations where the fungus could overwinter continue to be an important part of the ...
  • Burning Stalks – What does it Really Cost?

    After harvest, you immediately face management decisions as you begin preparing fields for next year's crop. Corn produces far more residue than most crops we are accustomed to, so it can cause considerable benefits or anxiety depending upon how you view it. This article addresses the pro's and con's of crop residue and associated management options, including burning. ...

More Info By