“I think in corn and soybeans our growers have reached the stage where they are very comfortable using fungicides to make them money,” Kemerait said.

 

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Where growers may not be comfortable using fungicides, though, is in cotton fields. But that’s changing with the increase in pressure from a disease called cotton target spot caused by Corynespora cassiicola.

“Using fungicides on cotton has kind of come out of left field. But for an increasing number of growers across the Southeast, the use of fungicides to manage target spot is of considerable interest now, but is also approached with uncertainty and a healthy dose of caution,” Kemerait said.

Cotton target spot last year, he said, stretched from Alabama to Virginia, and growers saw advantages to using fungicide in battling it in severe situations, noting that the disease can fast defoliate cotton when it hits early in a season. Fungicides can save up to 200 pounds of lint per acre.

Target spot, he admitted, can help cotton at certain times. A little defoliation late in the season can actually help prevent boll rot in rank-growth cotton, which is most often hit by the disease.

“Growers should scout their fields at the approach of first bloom to determine if target spot is present.  From research conducted in Georgia, the optimum timing for an initial fungicide application is sometime between the first and third week of bloom. An additional fungicide application may be needed approximately three weeks after the first application,” he said.