DECATUR, Ill. — A tassel application of fungicide has been common for many growers across the Midwest, but benefits also are being realized with an early-season application, according to Bayer CropScience.

“One of the most important things for this part of the United States is the use of fungicides on corn in an early-season (V4 to V8) application timing,” said Randy Myers, Bayer CropScience fungicides product manager.

“The tassel application has been standard for quite some time, and it continues to grow, but the additional timing is in an early-season window when growers are typically going across their fields anyway applying herbicide.

“It’s real simple to put the fungicide in the tank with that application. The application costs are already included, so the incremental cost is quite low.

“The nice thing about it is because we’re going across with ground equipment with high carrier volume and a small plant, coverage is simple to accomplish, so there’s a very consistent deposition of good high-quality application. With that consistent deposition, we are getting consistent performance and yield increases.”

With an early application of Stratego YLD in commercial fields in 2010 and 2011, Myers said, there were nearly 7 bushel per acre increases, and in 2012, even under the dry conditions, the average across the Midwest was 5.9 bushel increases.

Stratego YLD fungicide features triazole technology for corn and soybeans. Offering two modes of action, it provides both preventive and curative activities and systemic movement to provide broad-spectrum, long-lasting disease control and higher yield potential, according to Myers.

Stratego YLD can be applied to soybean or to corn early season and at tassel

An early fungicide application helps the root system become more substantial, “but that’s not all the story,” Myers said.

“There are a lot of other factors. A lot of the diseases we’re talking about may work from the soil residue on top of the soil and move up into the canopy,” he said.

“Now that we have so much no-till and we have high plant populations, we are creating an environment where diseases are much more common and more virulent than what they have been in the past.”

When waiting to make a tassel application, there has been more time that has passed to allow those diseases to become established on the bottom part of the plant.

“Playing catch-up with disease is very hard, and any damage that’s already occurred — a fungicide even with curative activity can’t fix damage. All it can do is stop the spread of the disease, but it can’t fix it,” the product manager said.

A lot of the infection can occur early as many of the diseases originate in the soil and work their way up into the canopy.

“With that early application, you can keep those bottom leaves cleaner longer to delay the onset of disease in the middle canopy and those stalks. We have a good strong root growth that’s been established,” Myers said.

“That’s a good thing, but one thing that is sometimes overlooked is the lower one-third of a cornstalk is a warehouse, where as the plant is developing, it’s pulling up nutrients and storing carbohydrates in that stalk, so when the grain is now being set, that is where the stalk goes to pull nutrients and carbohydrates and fill that grain.

“When you make that application, you have a strong lower stalk on that plant that facilitates making sure that we have good vascular tissue for a good transfer of those nutrients up into the ear.

“For the tassel applications only, sometimes your infections come in earlier than that, and it’s difficult to be able to get ahead of those conditions that have been established.”