Growing Knowledge

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

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.  

6 Ways to Leverage Your Elite Hybrids

Adam Ivey
CROPLAN Marketing Manager
Seed represents a substantial portion of your planting budget. If you planted any of the new elite class of corn hybrids from CROPLAN® seed this year, make sure you are managing them adequately to fully optimize their advanced genetics and get the most out of your investment.
 
Over the past four years, WinField United has learned more about which hybrids offer optimal genetic potential, and we have used those learnings to improve on that potential with each new hybrid class. For example, this year’s new elite corn hybrids are estimated to deliver 2.8 bushels per acre more than last year’s hybrids and 8.5 bushels per acre more than those released three years ago.*
 
Our Answer Plot® research has demonstrated the value of managing high-performing genetics — for example, planting zinc-treated seed and making in-furrow applications of a plant growth regulator — to optimize ROI and yield potential. As a result, we have formulated these tips to help you realize the possibilities of each hybrid you have purchased. Consult with your trusted advisor to put these recommendations into practice.
 
1. Get population right.
Plant as early as practical and choose the right population for your respective environment. Use response-to-population scores and Answer Plot performance data to determine optimal populations for your fields. Remember that it’s important to have adequate soil fertility as a prerequisite to high yield potential. Sufficient levels of soil phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur are particularly vital.
 
2. Make zinc a must.
Corn seedlings need zinc early in their development. That’s why the 2018 CROPLAN elite class of genetics not only offers a distinct genetic advantage, it also comes treated with Advanced-Coating Zinc that promotes excellent early-season emergence, stand establishment and growth.
 
3. Encourage quick emergence.
Use an in-furrow application of an Ascend® plant growth regulator and starter fertilizer to give your plants a boost. Once the seed is set, adequately feed your plants to foster their genetic potential. Uniformity in plant stands is vital to extract high yield potential from today’s top germplasm. Seed planting depth and plant spacing are key to maximizing a plant’s growing environment.
 
4. Provide added nutrition.
Because of the high yield potential of our elite class of hybrids, there is often a need for added nutrition at key growth stages. Take adequate and timely tissue samples to learn the nutrient composition and concentration of the plant so you can rest assured you are feeding the proper nutrition needed to push yield potential higher. Take at least two tissue samples — one at V5 to understand early plant development needs, and one before reproductive stages to continue to foster high yield potential. Use response-to-nitrogen scores to determine when and how much nitrogen is needed to maximize genetic potential in your area.  
 
5. Protect against disease.
Protect your elite class of genetics from disease throughout the season, especially during later reproductive stages. Know how the genetics of the elite seed you planted responds to fungicide applications by using response-to-fungicide hybrid scores. Be a good steward of your high-yielding products by timing fungicide applications appropriately, always considering weather and environmental conditions that could be conducive to the spread of disease in the future.  
 
6. Harvest at the optimal time.
Because CROPLAN elite class hybrids offer a yield potential advantage, be sure you capture every bushel of it by harvesting within the window that’s best for your specific environment and geography.  
 
Start your plants right early, feed them throughout the year and protect them adequately to give yourself the best chance of extracting the most value from your elite class of hybrids. By investing in them, you’ve given yourself the best chance to gain more at harvest.
 
*2017 Answer Plot trial data

Are Plant Growth Regulators Worth the Investment?

Jonathan Zuk
Regional Agronomist
Biological growth stimulants have been getting more attention from the agricultural community in recent years, but you may be wondering if they actually live up to the hype. The Answer Plot® program has generated some solid research supporting the benefits of applying plant growth regulators (PGRs), both in-furrow at planting and later in the season as a foliar application. If you haven’t added a PGR to your crop nutrition program, now may be the time to start.
 
What do PGRs do?
PGRs are hormones that regulate the growth and development of plants. There are five basic classes of plant growth regulators. Each of these has a different effect on plants, ranging from stimulating plant growth to dictating seed germination. Plant responses may vary depending on PGR type, rate and application timing.
 
When should you apply a PGR?
Plant growth regulators can be applied throughout the growing season. To promote vigorous root growth and early emergence, PGRs can be applied as a seed treatment or in-furrow at planting. The benefit of using a PGR prior to emergence is that seeds get an extra boost and a strong start at a time when soil and environmental conditions might not be favorable.
 
Ascend® SL plant growth regulator by WinField United contains three EPA-registered active ingredients for more vigorous emergence, better root growth, wider leaves and thicker stalks. Answer Plot data from 199 sites over three years showed 60.5% of sites responded positively, with 5.85-bushel-per-acre positive response when Ascend PGR was applied in-furrow to corn at planting.
 
Applying a foliar PGR prior to tasseling in corn can help stimulate plant growth and development to harness more energy for grain fill. An application at V4 to V6 in corn makes sense because you’ll have a better idea of your crop’s yield potential and can focus PGRs where you’ll get the best return on investment. Answer Plot data from 13 locations in 2017 showed an average 2.8-bushel-per-acre yield advantage when Ascend SL was applied as a foliar application at V4 to V5 in corn west of the Mississippi River.
 
Aren’t all PGRs the same?
PGR is a broad term for any product that uses plant hormones to generate a plant response. PGRs can initiate many responses in plants, from more vigorous root growth and stem elongation to plant senescence; therefore, not all products provide the same results. Before you invest in a PGR, be sure you know what the active ingredients are and what the expected plant response is. ALWAYS remember that more active ingredient does not always mean a better plant response when applying PGRs.  Always ask for firm data to back up any product claims.
 
To learn more about plant growth regulators and where they fit into your management plan, talk with your local retailer.

Push Crops Through Stressful Conditions With Biostimulants

Jason Haegele
Agronomist, WinField United
During the lifespan of a crop, it’s faced with numerous stressors that can chip away at yield. So what can you do to protect plants from stress? It starts with keeping crops healthy from day one with good management practices.
 
Stay ahead of the season
Start by anticipating potential problems based on current crop conditions and the weather forecast. Scout crops frequently and use technology like the R7® Field Monitoring Tool to track growth stage and crop development. Take tissue samples ahead of key nutrient uptake periods to allow yourself time to make in-season fertilizer adjustments if necessary.
 
Biostimulants can help
In addition to traditional fertilizers, biostimulant additives can give crops an extra boost, especially during stressful conditions. Biostimulants are biologically derived products that can trigger reactions in a plant ranging from stress alleviation to yield enhancement.
 
Voyagrobiostimulant fertilizer by WinField United works well on highly managed corn acres where there is moisture stress prior to application or where moisture stress is anticipated. A foliar application from V4 to V8 in corn is recommended when fertility is adequate and available moisture is low. Answer Plot® research indicates that in areas that had less than 2 inches of rain immediately following a Voyagro application, there was a positive return on investment 93 percent of the time. The average yield response of a Voyagro application under these conditions was 3.8 bushels per acre.*  
 
Toggle® is another biostimulant fertilizer used in corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops. It’s derived from seaweed and enhances root growth, promotes synthesis of antioxidants and improves photosynthesis by increasing chlorophyll production in plants. Toggle works best on acres where stress is known to occur, such as areas where drought and high temperatures are likely or in saline or sodic soils. A foliar application around V5 and again at flowering can offer stress protection in corn.
 
Biostimulants promote plant growth and work best when applied with traditional fertilizer products. Work with your agronomist to develop a fertilization program that works harder to protect your crops during times of stress.
 
We’re here to help you with your holistic plant nutrition plan. Next, we’ll explore how to mitigate in-season stress using plant growth regulators and how to pair plant nutrition and seed choices, as well as tips for soil testing. We’ll continue to dig into all aspects of plant nutrition throughout the year right here on the Growing Knowledge blog, so be sure to check back for more plant health tips.
 
*2015 Answer Plot data, 27 locations across IA, KS, MN, MT, ND, NE, SD, TX

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