Growing Knowledge

Read the latest insights from our experts as they cover agronomy issues that matter most to you and your operation.

Understand the Value of Foliar Health

Dan Griffin
technical seed agronomist
If you could look into a crystal ball during 2019 planning, what would it tell you? Obviously, there’s no predicting the future in agriculture, but you can use data to help inform your decision-making.
 
Every year, WinField United generates response-to-fungicide data for all the hybrids being tested in nearly 200 Answer Plot® locations nationwide. In 2017, the results demonstrated a national average yield gain of 11.2 bushels per acre, following a tassel application of fungicide. These gains are often twice this amount in the eastern Corn Belt, due to high rainfall, heat, humidity and fungal pathogen populations that overwinter on crop residue, causing foliar disease pressure throughout the growing season.
 
But where on an ear of corn do we physically see the benefit of a foliar fungicide application?
This year in Ohio, our local WinField United team designed a new Answer Plot demonstration called the “Ear Leaf Demo” to show how response to fungicide can be seen on an ear of corn. As you consider input investments for the year ahead, the results from this demonstration can help you better understand the value of a foliar fungicide application.
 
Leaf surface area leads to grain fill
The ear leaf is the most important leaf on a corn plant because it powers the photosynthetic ability of the plant late into the season. Protecting the ear leaf, and the leaves above it, adds yield through increased kernel depth, which is a critical component to high-yielding corn. Gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight and southern rust destroy the photosynthetic ability of a given leaf by infecting the plant and decreasing the amount of photosynthetically active leaf surface area. Decreased leaf surface area diminishes the plant’s ability to add yield through kernel depth. Foliar fungicides play an important part in preserving ear leaf integrity during the grain fill period, which could contribute to increased yield potential.
 
To demonstrate leaf integrity’s critical role in yield growth, we removed the ear leaf for a block of eight rows and left it intact on the adjacent eight rows. There were no other differences between the two treatment zones. The removal of the ear leaf simulates the impact a foliar disease can have if it attacks the surface area of the leaf. During a year of high disease pressure in Ohio, the visual results were impressive. Remember, yield response to a VT/R1 fungicide application is not seen in increased kernel rows or length — it is seen in increased kernel depth.
 
Overhead view of full-length corn

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In these images, the increased kernel depth is easily identified. Both the plant with an ear leaf intact (left) and the plant with an ear leaf removed at R1 (right) have the same number of kernels around and the length. But notice the stark difference in kernel depth between the two. The plant with an intact ear leaf added much more kernel depth and, in turn, will have the higher yield potential come harvest.
 
This is how fungicide applications can provide value: providing disease resistance on the ear leaf to preserve the plant’s photosynthetic ability longer into grain fill. Understanding that value is important as 2019 planning begins. Be sure to speak with your local agronomist about whether you should set aside a disease protection budget for next year.
 
© 2018 WinField United. Answer Plot is a trademark of WinField United.
 

Managing For Yield on Rotational and Non-Rotational Acres

Joel and Jon
Hosts, WinField United
From nitrogen applications to tillage options to market conditions, there’s a lot to consider when making crop rotation decisions. On this episode of the Deal With Yield, hosts Joel Wipperfurth and Jon Zuk discuss the many factors that play into crop rotation decisions. Plus, the guys look back on lessons learned in 2018.
Season 14, Episode 4: Managing For Yield on Rotational and Non-Rotational Acres

The Deal With Yield is a podcast series covering the issues that matter most in crop production.

Consider Seed Treatments Now For Increased Protection at Planting

Cliff Watrin
Product Development Manager
We’re heading into harvest season. It’s a time when you can begin to quantify the management decisions you’ve made throughout the year. If your crops were able to establish strong stands and vigorous emergence, they had a better chance of dealing with stress later in the season. One way to help give plants that strong start is by choosing the right broad-spectrum seed treatment.
 
Insurance for your seed
Your seed purchase is arguably the biggest input cost you’ll face, so it makes sense to protect that investment. Applying a seed treatment helps mitigate early-season risks, such as planting into cool, wet soils, and defends the seed against soilborne insects and fungal diseases. As farmers have moved toward earlier planting to maximize yield, seed treatments have become essential for establishing uniform stands and for reducing replant risks. Protecting seed from early-season stress is key for late-season yield.
 
Choose the right seed care package
Four soilborne fungal pathogens — Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium — are native to all North American soils. Under favorable conditions, these diseases can infect emerging crops, leading to early-season root rots, reduced vigor and poor plant stands. A seed treatment that includes a broad spectrum of fungicides to control these pathogens can help limit early-season losses.
 
For soybeans, Warden® CX seed treatment can help protect against yield-robbing diseases. In addition to containing three different fungicides, the rates selected are optimized to give maximum residual control of early season diseases like Phytophthora and Pythium. Warden CX also includes Cruiser® insecticide with the patented Thiamethoxam Vigor effect for improved plant quality, stronger stems and larger root mass. Answer Plot® trial data from nine locations in 2014 showed an average 3.4-bushels-per-acre yield advantage when soybeans were treated with Warden CX compared to untreated seed.
 
Seed treatments can help protect your investment, reduce the risk of replant, help defend against diseases and insects, and help shield crops from suboptimal field conditions. Choosing the right seed treatment can result in better germination and more uniform stands, and it is a cost-effective way to help maximize yield potential. Talk with your local WinField United retailer or seed dealer to find out which seed treatment options are right for your acres.
 
Answer Plot® and Warden® are trademarks of WinField United. Cruiser® and Thiamethoxam Vigor are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company.

Improve Fungicide Response on Corn

Mark Glady
Regional Agronomist
A fungicide application represents a considerable investment. Be sure you get the most from it by answering these three questions before applying: What is the hybrid to be sprayed? What is the weather outlook for application day? What is the disease that’s being treated?

After that, determine which adjuvants should go in the tank. If 25 percent of your fungicide doesn’t reach its target, that means product — and money — is vanishing into thin air. An adjuvant helps keep fungicides and insecticides where they belong and helps deposit the product’s active ingredient deep into the crop canopy where it will be most effective.
 
MasterLock adjuvant hits the spot
Aerial applications are more common in cornfields at this time of the year and they use less water, which adds to the challenge of getting crop protection products where you want them. In 14 WinField United trials at locations in eight states between 2012 and 2017, adding MasterLock® adjuvant to the spray tank increased corn yields by an average of 5.7 bushels per acre compared to fungicide alone.
 
This data, along with our response-to-fungicide findings, can mean even more to you during this application season. (Note: This data includes third-party trials.)

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Benefits that pay off
Specifically created to enhance the performance of fungicides and insecticides in mid- to late postemergence applications to corn and soybeans, MasterLock offers a range of benefits:
  • Improved spray deposition
  • Increased canopy penetration
  • Enhanced adhesion, reduced bounce and increased coverage because droplets stick and spread
  • Reduced spray drift and pesticide evaporation
MasterLock is also not formulated with NPE, which has been linked to Arrested Ear Syndrome in corn, mostly when applied during vegetative growth stages.
 
Enhance coverage and increase control
A hybrid of InterLock® adjuvant and DropTight additive, MasterLock helps eliminate fines by driving droplets down into the canopy, which enables droplets to hit and stick to the leaf.
 
To control diseases and insects that live below the canopy, MasterLock enhances deposition to deliver fungicides and insecticides lower into the canopy for improved coverage of the plant. In numerous research trials, MasterLock has been shown to decrease the incidence of infection from diseases and help improve insect control with insecticides.
 
Make sure that if fungicide is on your expense sheet this year that you get the full ROI out of it by adding an adjuvant to the tank. Talk with your local trusted advisor about including MasterLock in your late-season application plans.
 
Always read and follow label instructions. Product descriptions and ratings are generated from Answer Plot® trials and/or from the genetics supplier and may change as additional data is gathered. These ratings also reflect trends in product performance during research trials that are dependent upon many factors beyond the control of WinField United including without limitation, weather, soil types, disease pressure, crop production patterns and other uncontrollable factors.

Be Purposeful When Controlling Fungal Diseases

Dennis Christie
Agronomist
No matter what crops are in your fields, maintaining plant health should be a top priority to maximize yield potential. Healthy green leaf area helps promote photosynthesis that eventually leads to grain fill. When plant health is compromised, so is yield potential. Here are some tips to help maintain the green on your leaves and in your pocket.
 
Scout with intention
Many plant diseases are soilborne, meaning that they start on the ground and make their way up a plant. Unless you’re getting into the plant canopy to look for diseases, you may miss them until it’s too late for action.
 
Proper disease identification can be tricky, but it’s a must for choosing the right corrective action. If you have questions, seek the expertise of your trusted agronomic advisor.
 
Know when to act
Is it time to spray a fungicide? To decide, you can start by reviewing the seed hybrid and varieties you’ve planted. If they’re more susceptible to disease, protecting with a fungicide might be the right choice. Other things to consider are current and forecasted weather conditions, and history of disease pressure in the field. Wind-borne diseases like rust can blow up from the south, so keep an eye on conditions outside of your local area too.
 
Choose the right product
There are a lot of fungicides on the market, but they don’t all work the same way. A strong fungicide delivers multiple modes of action against the diseases you’re targeting. For example, RustEase, a new fungicide by WinField United, contains two modes of action for broad-spectrum control of many common crop diseases. The active ingredients, cyproconozale and azoxystrobin, provide upward mobility with improved distribution so they can move within plant tissue to protect new growth. RustEase has both preventive and curative properties and provides solid residual activity.
 
To get the most from your fungicide application, add MasterLock® adjuvant to the tank mix. MasterLock improves deposition, retention and spreading of fungicides on leaves and helps product penetrate deeper into the canopy, where many fungal diseases start. You’ll get better plant coverage with MasterLock, which translates into better return on the application investment and more leaf area protected against disease.
 
RustEase is labeled for use in wheat, corn and soybeans. In my area, it’s primarily used in wheat because it protects against leaf, stem and stripe rust, as well as powdery mildew, tan spot and Septoria leaf blight. You’ll get the best return on investment when the flag leaf is protected, so an application from the late boot to flag leaf stage is recommended. Work with your agronomist to scout for and treat fungal diseases to protect plant health and yield.  

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