BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — As young corn plants struggle to survive in their spongy environment, farmers should plan for managing heavier-than-normal disease pressure and plant development stresses, according to a Syngenta representative.

Wet conditions are ideal for fungal diseases, “and certainly I think there will be higher-than-normal fungal pressure for that very reason because you need moisture for most fungi to take off and then the fungus gets growing,” said Eric Tedford, Quilt Xcel fungicide technical product lead.

He recommends an early application of fungicide to protect those plants.

“The benefits you get from an early application of Quilt Xcel would be that you have the combination of two very broad spectrum active ingredients in that product — strobilurin and a triazole,” he said. “They both control the major diseases in corn, soybeans and wheat. They’re a very good compliment because the both control the main diseases.

“They also have a benefit in the way they work. Azoxystrobin, the strobilurin component, is a preventative fungicide. It prevents infections from occurring.

“It’s very, very good at killing spores as they germinate, killing spores as they sit on the surface of the plant and preventing infections from occurring. You could almost think of it as a coat of armor to protect the plant.”

The triazole component of Quilt Xcel, propriconazole, is a curative that stops the growth of a pathogen in plant tissues.

“The benefit of having the combination of the two is if you just have a preventative and applied the fungicide a little too late and unbeknownst to you spores have already landed and infections have started to occur, you’re kind of out of luck because you’re not going to be able to shut down that infection,” Tedford said.

“But with that curative in Quilt Xcel, you can shut those infections down and prevent them from further producing more spores that move around, plus you have the preventative to provide disease control. It’s a really good combination product for growers for disease control.”

He recommends Quilt Xcel be applied on corn at the V4 to V8 growth stages. Among the advantages of applying the fungicide within those growth stages is it can be included in a one-pass program with an herbicide application.

“You also get the product on with a ground rig, which is a lot easier for many than going out at the R1 timing. We have many people who do that, as well, or do both the early and late timing,” Tedford said.

“There are also several other benefits from the strobilurin component of the fungicide. We do know a lot about what happens with these fungicides in terms improving the plant’s ability to grow under stressful conditions such as too much water or too little water.

“Under both conditions, we’ve seen that plants that are treated early get off to a jump start. It allows them to grow quicker. We see a gain in the root biomass so the roots have an advantage.

“Also what happens in that jumpstart is you tend to have canopy closure quicker, and therefore you’re getting more shading, reducing weeds that otherwise might develop in there.”

Tedford suspects that some diseases that begin to show later in the season will appear sooner in some areas due to the heavy moisture.

“Most fungal disease like moisture, so my guess is we’ll see more anthracnose, which comes in early in corn, and gray leaf spot, which is the leading yield-robbing fungal disease of corn,” he said.

“The gray leaf spot pathogen survives in field residue, and once it’s activated by the moisture, it starts growing in that stubble. We might even see more stalk rot-type diseases.”

Field trials over the last three years have shown the benefits of an early application of Quilt Xcel, according to Tedford.

“The results have been very consistent over the last three years,” he said. “In 2010 and 2011, we were using Quadris for that early application and in 2012 switched to Quilt Xcel applied at V4 to V8.

“In 2010, the yield benefits from an early application of Quadris were 5.7 bushels per acre and 5.2 in 2011 (over untreated corn). With Quilt Xcel in 2012, that jumped to 12.2 bushels per acre.”

There were 617 trials in 2010, 52 in 2011 and 131 in 2012.

“With Quilt Xcel applied at R1, there was a 14.2-bushels-per-acre increase over untreated corn in 2010, 11.2 in 2011 and 14.9-bushel-per-acre increase in 2012,” Tedford said.

The combination of an early and late application resulted in 17.5-bushel average increase over the untreated corn in 2010, 14.2 in 2011 and 18.4 in 2012, according to Tedford.

For soybeans, a 4- to 8-bushel increase was noted when an application was made at R3. The yield advantage was 9 to 11 bushels for wheat.