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Manage Corn Diseases with the Systems Approach

December 26, 2010
By: Margy Eckelkamp, Director of Content Development, Machinery Pete

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In episode 9 of Corn College TV, Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist Missy Bauer gives key lessons in corn production with disease management tips.  

“Start with the disease triangle–pathogen, conditions, host,” she says. “All three have to come together for the disease to be present in your corn field.”

Bauer suggests staying up-to-date with the disease threats in your area.

“In our part of the country, common diseases are gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, and common rust,” she says.

episode9 systemsapproachdiseaseUnderstand they diseases you have and if those diseases overwinter or have to blow in from another geographic area.

To understand the conditions for a disease to be present, Bauer says first turn to the weather data.

“Look at temperatures, moisture, humidity,” she says. “Pay attention if it is foggy every morning, for example. Track weather data with yoru own weather stations or a reliable source.”

Your production practices play a role in disease management.

“Think about your crop rotation,” Bauer says. “In corn-on-corn. gray leaf spot  and northern corn leaf blight will overwinter on corn residue.”

“Think about your tillage practices. Are you no-till or conventional tillage? If there is residue left ground it can harbor spores.”

Another production practice to consider is row spacing. Bauer notes that 30” rows have more air movement between the rows than narrow rows. The tighter leaves mean greater humidity under the crop canopy.

Hybrid selection is another piece to disease management. There is a difference in genetics for hybrids to be resistant to diseases or respond to fungicides.  

“In one plot, we looked at six hybrids,” Bauer says. “There are big differences between treated with a fungicide and non-treated. You can see a difference in the overall stay green effect, or look leaf by leaf to see lesions. And then some hybrids were disease resistant without any treatment.”

To learn more from this disease management plot and other tips to top yields, watch episode 9 of Corn College TV.

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