• Use of fungicides continues to become more of the norm on corn and soybeans rather than the exception. Farmers have respect for preventative fungicide applications and an appreciation for the damage that diseases like southern corn rust, northern corn leaf blight and Asian soybean rust cause. Best management practices for diseases like northern corn leaf blight remain uncertain.

• Target spot, caused by Corynespora cassiicola, remains very common where cotton is grown in Georgia and can cause significant premature defoliation. Effective management of this disease, including if and when to spray, still requires much additional study.

• Management of nematodes will become an ever-increasingly important consideration for row-crop growers. Not only are farmers becoming more aware of the impact of nematodes, like the stubbyroot nematode on corn, but they will also have access to new tools. Whether the promise of new nematicides, new nematode-resistant varieties, or site-specific applications of Telone II, growers should learn all they can about the impact of nematodes and tactics that can be deployed to protect their crop.

Growers should prepare for next year

The five most important steps growers can take to prepare for the 2014 season are:

• Assess the performance of varieties planted this year with regards to disease, and begin to consider ways to improve disease control for next year.

• Consider steps to take to improve crop rotation in the new season.

• Take nematode samples from fields to identify problem areas.

• Assess diseases that were of particular importance in 2013, and consider options for improving management in 2014.

• Learn about new, resistant varieties, fungicides and nematicides that are available, and determine how to use them effectively in the new season.

For more information about diseases on Georgia crops, visit the UGA Plant Disease Library website at plantpath.caes.uga.edu/extension/DiseaseLibrary.html.

(Bob Kemerait is an Extension plant pathologist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.)