With the increase in some commodity prices, the introduction of new diseases, and old ones getting worse, now more than ever Southern farmers see the benefits of what a well-timed fungicide can do to protect their crops and secure higher yields.

Anyone who grows peanuts knows the need for fungicides, which the crop requires on a consistent schedule seven or eight times a season. But in recent years, Southern farmers have increasingly used fungicides on corn, cotton and soybeans, and it is working for them, says Michael Chafin, farm manager at the Sunbelt Ag Expo.

“We have for the last few years had several trials on using fungicides to protect or even increase yields in corn and to see what well-timed fungicide applications can do to protect corn and cotton against what can be some devastating diseases,” says Chafin, who adds that he’ll be doing work with BASF and Syngenta fungicides on corn trials this year at the Sunbelt Expo Farm site.

“But regardless of the fungicides you use, the end result can be economical for growers in certain situations.”

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension plant pathologist Bob Kemerait will be on hand at the Sunbelt Ag Expo Field Day July 11 in Moultrie, Ga. Field day starts at 7:15 a.m. Along with representatives from leading fungicide-producing companies, Kemerait will talk about how fungicides can work for growers across a Southern farm’s diverse landscape.

Less than a decade ago, UGA Extension specialists had limited recommendations for treating soybeans and field corn with fungicides. 

“Today, my message to our corn and soybean producers is that each should anticipate and plan for at least a single fungicide application early in reproductive growth (first tassel, late bloom, early pod set),” Kemerait says.  

Where weather is dry or yield potential is low, fungicide applications may not be needed.  Where weather is favorable for disease, crop growth is robust and prices are excellent, “growers are wise to follow up with an additional fungicide application,” he says.