Get Ahead of Fungal Diseases That Could Impact Next Year’s Corn

FBN Network

Nov 20, 2023

One of the best ways to build your plan for next year is to consider what happened this season.

Let’s look at the fungal diseases you may have seen this year and discuss what you can do to better prepare yourself for the next season’s crop. 

Fungal Diseases to Look Out For in Your Fields

Growers in the southern regions already understand that many fungal pathogens overwinter due to the milder winters in their area. There are a few that survive in southern area, but generally can’t overwinter in the northern climates. These are blown north from overwintering sites in the south during the growing season and can include: 

  • Common Rust (Puccinia sorghi)

  • Southern Rust (Puccinia polysora)

  • Southern Corn Leaf Blight (Bipolaris maydis)

Some fungal pathogens overwinter in the northern and southern climates. Major examples are:

  • Northern Corn Leaf Blight (Exserohilum turcicum)

  • Northern Corn Leaf Spot (Bipolaris zeicola)

  • Gray Leaf Spot (Cercospora zeae-maydis)

  • Anthracnose Leaf Blight (Colletotrichum graminicola)

  • Tar Spot (Phyllachora maydis)

There are others that can overwinter in northern climates to a lesser degree, such as:

  • Diplodia Leaf Streak (Stenocarpella macrospora)

  • Physoderma Brown Spot (Physoderma maydis)

  • Eyespot (Kabatiella zeae)

  • Common Smut Fungus (Ustilago maydis)

  • Head Smut Fungus (Sphacelotheca reiliana)

PRO TIP: Foliar diseases that are not fungal pathogens, but sometimes get confused as fungal disease, include: 

  • Stewart’s Wilt (Pantoea stewartii), which overwinters in the corn flea beetle, 

  • Goss’s Wilt and Blight (Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. nebraskensis), which overwinter in residue borne bacterium1

  • Maize Dwarf Mosaic Virus

  • Holcus Spot

Fungicides have no effect on bacterial or viral pathogens, so save your money and focus on genetic resistance when selecting seed varieties.

Prepare Now for Next Year’s Crop

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to scout your fields to identify fungal disease that may have impacted your crop this year. Fall scouting is the best way to prepare for the upcoming season.

Many fungal diseases can be minimized by turning crop residue under with tillage practices. Many fungal pathogens can’t survive being buried, making the time of infection shorter the following year. Tillage works well on many fungal pathogens, but it does not completely eradicate the problem. 

If you utilize minimum tillage or no-till, expect fungal pathogens to potentially return. Focus on crop rotation and reducing host plants in weedy areas or fence lines. Corn is a grass, and grasses that grow next to your fields or in weedy areas of your fields can provide a place for pathogens to survive and possibly infect your upcoming crop.

Another option to consider is limiting stressors that weaken the crop. The following stressors can all contribute to a plant’s ability to fight pathogens later in the season:

  • Soil compaction

  • Cold soil temperatures early in the season

  • Excessively wet spring soils

  • Soil fertility

  • Seed treatment

And don’t forget about genetic resistance. Most seed companies capture ratings from poor to excellent on common fungal pathogens. Understanding these ratings will help you balance fungal resistance with yield expectations. 

Develop a Chemical Plan That Protects Your Bottom Line

Products utilizing active ingredients such as azoxystrobin, propiconazole or tebuconazole work well against these fungal pathogens. Timely scouting and timely applications can greatly increase your bottom line.

Remember to always read and follow label instructions for control of each fungal pathogen in your fields.

Prepare for Next Season with Fungicides from FBN®

FBN has the diverse array of fungicides you need to proactively manage fungal diseases and keep your operation running smoothly. With 24/7 digital shopping access, direct-to-farm delivery, transparent pricing and savings opportunities, and detailed label information available for each product, FBN offers the information and products you need to make an effective crop protection strategy this season. 

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FBN Network

Nov 20, 2023