Hemp Added to NNY Field Crops Health Survey; NNYADP Posts Results

Growers at a field crops meeting on a past August day in Northern New York. Photo: NNYADP

Industrial hemp and alfalfa have been added to the annual crop health survey funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP). Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) field crops specialists scouted fields on 30 regional farms in 2019 for early detection of disease in corn, soybean, alfalfa, and hemp crops. The results of crop surveys from 2013 through 2019 are posted on the NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org.

“This regional survey is a proactive and systematic way to alert growers to respond quickly to limit emerging and re-emerging plant diseases, to document trends, and to develop strategies to maintain crop health, sustainability, and the profit margin that is so narrow for growers,” says project leader and CCE Regional Field Crops Specialist Michael E. Hunter.

This NNYADP field crops survey, restarted in 2013, has traditionally focused on corn and soybean as foundational crops, grown as both livestock feed and cash crops, for the regional farming industry. Hunter says, “Alfalfa has been added to the survey as another essential dairy industry crop, and, with grower interest increasing in industrial hemp, we began scouting those plantings in 2019.”

Hunter and CCE Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialist Kitty O’Neil scout fields and send samples of plant tissue for diagnosis at the Bergstrom Pathology Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

In 2019, the NNYADP crop health survey identified 13 crop diseases: 2 in corn, 7 in soybean, 2 in alfalfa, and 2 in industrial hemp.

Northern stem canker was identified in soybean but was not problematic in NNY in 2019. Hunter notes, “While there have been significant yield losses reported to this disease in Midwestern states, to date, no yield loss has yet been documented in New York State crops to northern stem canker.”|

Warm, wet weather conditions during podfill in 2019 fostered development of Cercospora leaf blight,  non-yield limiting disease in soybean. Levels did not result in any rejection of loads shipped to market. Other soybean diseases identified in NNY in 2019 were downy mildew, white mold, frogeye leaf spot, anthracnose, and Septoria brown spot.

The cool, wet spring of 2019 favored growth of Leptosphaerulina leaf spot and Stemphylium leaf spot in alfalfa crops; however, incidences were not severe nor widespread, and neither disease negatively impacted forage quality or overall crop yield.

White mold and Botrytis gray mold, common molds that can cause serious damage in industrial hemp grown in the field and in greenhouses, were seen in plantings of industrial hemp, an emerging crop in Northern New York.

FIrst-time confirmations of emerging diseases are added to state and national crop pathogen databases with field samples archived in the Cornell University Field Crop Pathogen Culture Collection. DNA sequences of any confirmed new pathogens are submitted to the National Institutes of Health Gen Bank genetic sequence database.

“This yearly scouting and diagnosis survey project adds data, distribution mapping, and trending to help growers adapt their strategies for maintaining crop health, preventing disease, and efficiently and cost-effectively treating issues locally, regionally, and statewide,” Hunter adds.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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2020 Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management Now Available

2020 Field Crops Guide CoverThe Pesticide Management Education Program (PMEP) at Cornell University is pleased to announce the availability of the 2020 Cornell Guide for Integrated Field Crop Management.

Written by Cornell University specialists, this publication is designed to offer producers, seed and chemical dealers, and crop consultants practical information on growing and managing field corn, forages, small grains, and soybeans. Topics covered include nutrient management, soil health, variety selection, and common field crop pest concerns. A preview of the Field Crops Guide can be seen online at https://cropandpestguides.cce.cornell.edu.

Highlighted changes in the 2020 Cornell Field Crops Guide include:

    • Revised pesticide options for economically important field crop pests.
    • Updated corn, forage, and small grain variety trial and research data.
    • Pesticides available for stored grain management.

Cornell Crop and Pest Management Guidelines are available as a print copy, online-only access, or a package combining print and online access. The print edition of the 2020 Field Crops Guide costs $31 plus shipping. Online-only access is $31. A combination of print and online access costs $43.50 plus shipping costs for the printed book.

Cornell Guidelines can be obtained through your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office or from the Cornell Store at Cornell University. To order from the Cornell Store, call (844) 688-7620 or order online at https://www.cornellstore.com/books/cornell-cooperative-ext-pmep-guidelines.

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Frogeye Leaf Spot in Soybeans: Becoming More Prevalent in NY?

Jaime Cummings and Ken Wise, NYS IPM

Soybean fieldFrogeye leaf spot (FELS) is currently considered a minor foliar disease of soybeans in NY.  This easy-to-identify leaf spot is caused by the fungus Cercospora sojina, and typically shows up mid- to late-season in random soybean fields.  The disease gets its name from the similarity of the spots to what a frog’s eye looks like, having dark reddish-brown margins and light brown-gray centers (Fig 1).  The lesions may be round or irregularly shaped.  If you look closely with a hand lens, you may see the spores of the fungus in the center of the spots if it’s humid.  These spores in the spots will be wind-dispersed to other leaves, resulting in multiple cycles of the disease in one season if the weather is conducive for infection.

Frogeye leaf spot foliar lesions on soybean leaves
Figure 1. Frogeye leaf spot foliar lesions on soybean leaves in Tompkins County 2019. (Photos by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

The FELS pathogen has multiple races (up to 20 known races!), which means that management with genetic resistance is race-specific.  We do seem to have some highly virulent strains of the fungus in NY, and likely multiple races among those strains.  That’s why you can see one soybean field with moderate to high levels of FELS across the road from another soybean field with little to no FELS.  The genetic resistance available in some soybean varieties is quite effective, but only against specific races of the pathogen.  However, there are soybean varieties available with resistance to all known races of FELS, though maybe not in early maturity groups that are planted in NY.

NYS map of counties identified with frogeye leaf spot
Figure 2. NY counties with known frogeye leaf spot occurrence 2012-2018 shaded in purple. More counties will be added when updated with 2019 observations. (image courtesy of fieldcrops.org)

FELS has typically been a sporadic pest in NY, rarely reaching epidemic levels that would require fungicide applications (Fig. 2).  We’ve been fortunate that when it does appear, it typically shows up during later reproductive stages and will have little to no effect on yield or grain quality.  But in recent years, this trend may be changing, and we may need to be more aware of FELS in NY soybean fields, and potentially consider management options.

Leaf showing severe epidemic of frogeye leaf spot
Figure 3. Severe epidemic of frogeye leaf spot on a susceptible variety. (photo courtesy of T. Allen, Mississippi State University)

I’ve noticed FELS in more and more fields in NY over the past few years, and have had reports of moderate to severe outbreaks earlier in the season in fields planted with susceptible varieties (Fig 3.).  FELS is considered one of the major foliar diseases contributing to yield losses in more southern latitudes in the US, causing 17,662,000 bushels lost nationally in 2015; second overall only to Septoria brown spot.  Our NY yield losses to FELS have likely been minimal, but that could change as we see more FELS around the state each year.  Yield loss from FELS is due to decreased photosynthetic capability of infected leaves and premature defoliation, along with a potential reduction in seed quality.  For more information on estimated yield losses to soybean diseases, see this publication by the Crop Protection Network.

Life cycle of frogeye leaf spot
Figure 4. Life cycle of frogeye leaf spot fungal pathogen on soybean. (image courtesy of A. Grahek and apsnet.org)

As FELS prevalence increases in NY, so does the local inoculum.  The fungus can overwinter on soy residues, including shattered seeds, and can be seed transmitted (Fig. 4).  Seed transmission can be mitigated via fungicidal seed treatments and purchasing high-quality, treated seed.  Other good integrated pest management practices for reducing FELS in your fields include crop rotation, planting resistant varieties, and potentially foliar fungicide applications in severely infected fields.  Should we get to the point where fungicides are needed to manage FELS in NY, there are a number of products available with ‘good’ to ‘very good’ efficacy ratings against this disease.  And it is recommended to make protective fungicide applications between R2-R5.  See this table from the Cornell Guide to Integrated Field Crop Management for available fungicides.  However, it is worth noting that fungicide resistance has been well-document to some quinone outside inhibitor (QoI) group (FRAC group 11) fungicides among numerous FELS fungal populations in at least 13 states (Fig 5).  For more information on fungicide resistance in soybean pathogens, visit this site.

US map showing locations of fungicide resistant populations
Figure 5. Documentation of fungicide resistant populations of frogeye leaf spot pathogen as of 2016. (image courtesy of Plant Management Network)
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Unfamiliar Foliar Lesions on Your Corn??? It Could Be Southern Corn Leaf Blight

Jaime Cummings (NYS IPM), Joe Lawrence (PRO-Dairy), and Josh Putman (CCE)

corn leaf blight
Southern corn leaf blight lesions on corn leaf. (Photo by C. Grau, and image courtesy of Crop Protection Network)

Reports of Southern Corn Leaf Blight, have been confirmed by our neighbors near Erie, PA this past week.  This is on our radar, because that area shares latitude with some of our corn acreage in our southern tier and Hudson Valley region.  Therefore, you may want to keep an eye out for atypical corn foliar disease symptoms as the season progresses.

Most corn growers are unfortunately familiar with many of our common foliar diseases, including northern corn leaf blight, gray leaf spot, and eyespot.  Sure, at first they all look alike as all young lesions start out as small chlorotic spots.  But, as the disease progresses, and as the lesions mature, each disease has fairly distinctive lesion types that a trained eye could possibly identify even from the window of the truck on a drive-by scouting effort.  But, throw an unfamiliar leaf spot into the mix, and it might get a little more confusing.

Southern Corn Leaf Blight (SCLB), though not common in NY, was confirmed in 2018 on Long Island, and may be appearing again in 2019.  Suspicious samples have been submitted for ID.  SCLB lesions may not be as distinctive or easy to identify, because they are somewhere intermediate in size and shape between gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight, and they also resemble lesions of the northern corn leaf spot disease.  With so much overlap in symptoms, it’s best to get an accurate diagnosis before making any management decisions.

SCLB typically appears on corn leaves between VT and R4 growth stages as irregular tan lesions with vaguely reddish margins.  Lesion shape and size may vary among hybrids.  There are different races of this pathogen (races T, O, and C), but race O is most common in North America and is restricted to leaf infections.  However, race T also exists in the US, and can infect leaves, stalks, and ears.  As with most of our corn diseases, the fungus overwinters on corn debris, and can be further disseminated by wind or rain within and among fields in subsequent seasons (Fig. 1).  There can be multiple cycles of this disease in one season if conditions are favorable (warm and wet).  However, this hasn’t been a major disease of concern since the 1970’s, and we don’t anticipate it to be a chief concern here in NY compared as compared to our regional issues with northern corn leaf blight and gray leaf spot.

Diagram of the disease life cycle of corn foliar pathogen
Figure 1. Typical disease life cycle of a corn foliar pathogen such as southern corn leaf blight. (Image courtesy of Pioneer)

As with all corn foliar diseases, the incidence and severity of the lesions and the level of epidemic in the field will determine its impact on yield, because all foliar diseases affect photosynthesis and may leave plants more susceptible to stalk rots.  The first and best option for managing SCLB is through genetic resistance.  However, since this is such an uncommon disease in NY or other northern production areas, resistance ratings specifically for this disease may not be widely available in seed catalogs when making hybrid selections.  And, as for many of our common foliar diseases, an integrated management approach will work best.  Reducing primary inoculum through residue management and crop rotations, in combination with genetic resistance and use of fungicides only when necessary will successfully minimize losses from southern corn leaf blight.  Please remember, research has shown that fungicides are most cost-effective with a single application at VT/R1 when disease pressure is >5% throughout the field, and when the disease reaches at least the ear leaf by tasseling on susceptible hybrids when the weather is expected to be conducive for the disease to spread (Fig. 2).

Data charts
Figure 2. Corn fungicide timing and disease severity trials summary of hundreds of trials in 2013 by Dr. Kiersten Wise of University of Kentucky show that a single fungicide application at VT/R1 with disease severity >5% resulted in the best yield response.
Corn leaves from Southern NY
A corn field in Chautauqua County with suspected southern corn leaf blight infection. Samples submitted and awaiting diagnosis. (Photo by J. Putman)
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NNYADP-Funded Field Crop Survey Provides Real-Time Alert, Data Trend Tracking

 Growers hear from Cornell faculty and Extension educators at this NNY corn and soybean field day in Henderson, N.Y.
Growers hear from Cornell faculty and Extension educators at this NNY corn and soybean field day in Henderson, N.Y. Photo: NNYADP

To help Northern New York farmers be alert to newly emerging field crop diseases and trends, the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program funds an annual field crop diagnosis and assessment project. The data produced by the survey is critical to farmers locally and statewide.

The annual evaluations, revived in 2013, provide farmers with real-time alerts in the current growing season, and add to multi-year data tracking that identifies trends and indicates emerging and re-emerging challenges.

“Northern New York farmers are increasingly faced with important management decisions that require real-time knowledge of plant diseases. The regional survey provides data to help them select crop varieties with disease-resistance and plan management practices to most cost-effectively and efficiently respond to the current-day threats and year-to-year variability,” says project leader Michael E. Hunter, a Cornell University Cooperative Extension Regional Field Crops Specialist.

Hunter and Cornell University Cooperative Extension Regional Field Crops and Soils Specialist Kitty O’Neil collaborate with Cornell University Plant Pathologist Gary Bergstrom, Ph.D. to respectively detect potential issues and collect crop samples in the fields, and analyze them at the Bergstrom Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Thirty-two farms located across the six-county Northern New York region that includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties participated in the most recently-completed survey.

The NNYADP-funded survey also includes 19 sentinel cornfields and 18 sentinel fields of soybean, chosen to maximize the diversity of environments and cropping practices that can impact disease potential. In 2018, across the NNY survey area, seven corn diseases and six soybean diseases in total were identified and diagnosed.

“We are seeing an increasing number of growers using an integrated approach to managing field crop diseases on their farms. There are growers that are now paying closer attention to disease-resistant crop varieties, crop rotations, tillage practices, soil fertility management and fungicide selection based on the crop diseases identified in this regional survey,” Hunter notes.

The results of the 2019 field crops disease diagnosis and assessment survey will be posted on the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program website at www.nnyagdev.org and disseminated to growers, crop consultants, agribusiness and extension field crops educators at crop meetings and field days locally and statewide.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

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NYS IPM Weekly Field Crops Report-May 27, 2019

Sclerotinia Crown and Stem Rot on Alfalfa (AKA: White Mold)

By Jaime Cummings of NYS Integrated Pest Management, and Janice Degni of Cornell Cooperative Extension

We had an interesting report from Janice Degni (CCE, SCNY dairy and field crops team leader) this week.  While out scouting and measuring alfalfa stands in Onondaga County, Janice noticed some wilting plants.  Upon closer inspection, she found sclerotia, the tell-tale sign of white mold on the alfalfa stems (Fig. 1).  Though this disease can be found in alfalfa and clover stands, you are likely more familiar with white mold on soybeans.  Two different species of this pathogen can be found on alfalfa.  Sclerotinia trifolium is the one most commonly identified on alfalfa, but the same species found on soybean, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, can also infect alfalfa.

Figure 1.  Bleached stems with sclerotia on alfalfa.
Figure 1. Bleached stems with sclerotia on alfalfa. (Photo by Janice Degni, CCE)

Remember that these pathogens overwinter and survive many years in the soil as sclerotia.  Sclerotia are the black structures you’ve likely seen on infected soybean stems.  These two different fungal pathogen species are difficult to differentiate, but the trend is that S. sclerotiorum tends to infect in the spring and summer, while S. trifolium typically infects in the fall.  Regardless of the species, the symptoms, epidemiology and management are similar.

Figure 2.  Sclerotinia stem and crown rot infection symptoms on alfalfa.
Figure 2. Sclerotinia stem and crown rot infection symptoms on alfalfa. (Photos by Carol Frate, University of California)

The symptoms of Sclerotinia crown and stem rot in alfalfa include rotting crowns, cottony growth on stems and crowns, and wilting and rotting stems.  Infected crowns tend to die-off, and may be confused with winterkill, if not for the tell-tale sign of sclerotia in the dead tissues.  Infection in first-year stands is most problematic.  Just like in soybeans, this disease can spread quickly through a field, either by spores or via fungal mycelium spreading among plants during a cool, wet spring.  This can potentially thin a stand out rather quickly, and can leave plenty of those sclerotia behind as inoculum for future years.

This prolonged cool, wet spring we’ve been experiencing has provided ideal conditions for this disease that we infrequently encounter in our alfalfa fields.  An integrated management approach is the best solution.  Since this disease is most prominent in first year, fall-seeded fields, you may consider future spring plantings in fields where you find it.  Or, get your fall seedings in as early as possible so that seedlings have a chance to establish before the sclerotia germinate and produce spores in the fall.  Tillage buries the sclerotia, which can reduce the number of spores released and may decrease infection in the field.  But, as in soybeans, this disease is difficult to manage.  Dense stands and weedy fields create perfect conditions for this pathogen to thrive.  However, a few alfalfa varieties exist with moderate resistance, and may be considered in fields with a history of this disease.  Research in other states has shown that some fungicides are efficacious against this disease when applied in the fall (Table 1).  We have limited options for fungicides labeled for white mold on alfalfa in NY, including Pristine and Endura.  However, fungicide applications for this disease may not be cost-effective (always follow label instructions, restrictions, and pay attention to post-harvest intervals).  Herbicides, such as Paraquat, have also been used to reduce weeds and open up the canopy to increase air-flow lessen disease development.

Fungicide efficacy trial results against white mold and stem rot in alfalfa.

Once the weather warms up and fields dry out, this disease will likely halt, and some infected stands may recover and produce sufficient yields in subsequent years.  But, keep in mind that those sclerotia will remain in the soil for many years waiting for perfect conditions to start the disease cycle again.

Interested in keeping up to date with pest and disease issues identified statewide by CCE and IPM staff?  Subscribe to the NYS IPM Weekly Pest Report.

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Be on the Lookout for Early Season Diseases of Small Grains

By Jaime Cummings and Ken Wise, NYS IPM

Winter wheat tillers
Winter wheat forming tillers on April 25th in Aurora, NY (photo by Jaime Cummings, NYS IPM)

With spring underway, our fall planted wheat, barley, rye and triticale crops have woken up and are in early developmental stages, and some spring planted barley, oats and rye are emerging.  By now, you’ve already assessed plant stands for winterkill or other weather-related damage and weed pressure.  But did you look for signs of diseases?

Fungicidal seed treatments protect our small grains crops from soilborne pathogens that cause damping-off, and foliar fungicides may be warranted for many of our common early-season foliar diseases.  Early epidemics from these pathogens may spread throughout the canopy as the season progresses, given favorable weather conditions, resulting in potential yield reductions.  An integrated approach for managing these diseases involves crop rotation, residue management, planting pathogen-free seed of resistant varieties, proper fertility and canopy management, and foliar fungicide applications where necessary.  Susceptible cultivars benefit most from fungicide applications for reduction of diseases.  While scouting, keep an eye out for some of our most common early season diseases:

Powdery Mildew can be commonly found lower in the canopy of all small grain crops, and is easily identifiable by its white, fuzzy fungal growth on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces (Fig. 1).  This pathogen overwinters on straw residues which provide inoculum in the spring to blow into growing wheat stands.  Cultivars vary in their levels of resistance to powdery mildew, and resistance is the most cost-effective method of defense.  Should you find high levels of powdery mildew in your field, you may consider a triazole foliar fungicide application at flag leaf emergence.

Powdery mildew of wheat
Figure 1. Powdery mildew of wheat (photo by Ken Wise, NYS IPM).

Septoria and Stagonospora Leaf Blotches are two other very common foliar diseases you may encounter in NY wheat fields.  Though caused by two different pathogens, the leaf spot symptoms can be somewhat similar and difficult to differentiate for scouts (Fig. 2).  Both fungal pathogens overwinter on crop residues, and initial infection often occurs on seedlings emerging in the fall, but may also occur in the spring.  Many commercially available cultivars are available with varying levels of resistance to these pathogens.  But if you notice high levels of leaf blotches in your field, you may consider a foliar application of a strobilurin or triazole fungicide at flag leaf emergence to protect yield.

Stagonospora leaf blotch of weat
Figure 2. Stagonospora leaf blotch of wheat (photo by Ken Wise, NYS IPM).

Leaf Rust, or brown rust, can occasionally be found early in the season, though it often appears later as the spores migrate on winds from the south.  Leaf rust is easily identified as bright orange pustules on the upper leaf surfaces throughout the canopy of all small grain crops (Fig. 3).  Rust fungi are obligate pathogens, which require a living host, and therefore must either over-winter on alternate hosts, or arrive on wind currents from the south.  Planting resistant cultivars is the most cost-effective management tool, and a flag leaf application of a strobilurin or triazole fungicide also offers effective control of leaf rust on susceptible cultivars.

Wheat leaf rust
Figure 3. Wheat leaf rust (photo by Ken Wise, NYS IPM).

Scald is another fungal leaf spot that easily identified on winter malting barley by its distinctive lesions that can be found on any above-ground plant tissue (Fig. 4).  The fungal pathogen can over-winter on residues or can be seed-transmitted.  On susceptible cultivars and under favorable environmental conditions, scald can spread quickly throughout the canopy and field, resulting in significant yield loss.  Pay attention to scald resistance ratings when selecting malting barley cultivars to plant, as they vary drastically in susceptibility.  Susceptible cultivars will benefit from a triazole fungicide application at flag leaf, or even earlier to protect yields.

Scald on malting barley
Figure 4. Scald on malting barley (photo by Jenn Thomas-Murphy, Cornell University).

When deciding whether or not to spray a fungicide, there are many points to consider.  Not least of all, cost.  Use the following information as a guide from the Cornell Integrated Guide for Field Crop Management for making fungicide decisions in small grains:

Activity Worksheet: Economical Analysis of Thresholds in Wheat:

Does the crop have a reasonable yield potential?

Assess the crop in early May (stem elongation stages) for adequate stand (density of approximately 30 strong stems per foot of row for 7-inch rows on good soils) and plant vigor. If the stand is sparse or plants are not vigorous or show widespread virus symptoms, fungicide application should not be considered further.  ____ Yes    ___ No

Have foliar diseases been observed before flag (last) leaf emergence?

Assess upper three leaves for symptoms and signs of powdery mildew, leaf spots, or leaf rust in early to mid-May, before flag leaf emergence. If disease (any amount) is observed on approximately 50 percent of main tillers, averaged across the field, a spray should be considered now. This threshold is exceeded in less than 50 percent of location/year situations in New York, so there is a significant risk of making an unnecessary fungicide application.   ____ Yes   ___ No

Have foliar diseases been observed during head emergence?

Assess upper two leaves for foliar diseases in late May to early June; if disease (any amount) is observed on approximately 50 percent of main tillers, a spray should be considered now. Fungicide applications made after early June may control some diseases but are unlikely to produce significant yield benefits.  ___ Yes  ___ No

Are climatic predictions conducive for further disease development?

Powdery mildew development is reduced dramatically once the average daily temperature rises above 70˚F; this disease often disappears by June. Severe leaf spot development is favored by extended periods of wet weather; it may be insignificant if dry weather persists in May and June. Listen for regional advisories on the threat from leaf rust; rust inoculum often builds up in areas to the south and west of New York and is deposited here by thunderstorms in June or July. In addition to disease observations, use long-range local weather forecasts in making your spray decision.  What is your short to medium term weather conditions?

Have I selected fungicides appropriate for the disease spectrum and have I read the label carefully?

Be sure that the materials you spray will be effective against the range of diseases found in your field; e.g., some products effective against powdery mildew are ineffective against leaf spots or vice versa. Check in the Cornell University Guide for Integrated Crop Management.

Is the spray decision consistent with my perception of risk?

A simple formula for evaluating the relative economics of a fungicide spray is: Relative Profit = (Grain Yield Increase x Grain Price) – (Cost of Fungicide + Application Costs). If ground spray rigs are used, the yield lost to wheel traffic should also be factored in. Each of these variables influences the relative economics of fungicide application. At a grain price of $4, producers will need to see approximately a 5 bu/A yield increase to break even on the added costs of fungicide application. Because disease occurrence is erratic over years and locations, fungicide application cannot be expected to result in a 5-bushel or greater yield increase every year. Spray decisions should be tied closely to disease scouting information. When considering your economic risk, also be aware that foliar fungicides will not protect potential yield components that may be diminished by scab disease (fungus that infects heads at or following flowering), viral diseases (wheat spindle streak mosaic and yellow dwarf), soilborne diseases, or several other environmental factors.

Relative Profit = (Grain Yield Increase x Grain Price) – (Cost of Fungicide + Application Costs)

Spring malting barley
Spring malting barley planted on April 4 in Aurora, NY – photo taken on April 25th (photo by Jaime Cummings, NYS IPM)
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Fall is the Time to Test for Soybean Cyst Nematode

Jaime Cummings, NYS IPM Program

Since its first confirmation in Cayuga County in 2016, New York soybean farmers have a new pest to be leery of, the Soybean Cyst Nematode (SCN).  SCN is considered the number one pest of soybeans globally, causing yield losses of approximately 100 million bushels annually across the U.S. alone.  These high yield losses are due to the rapid and highly productive life cycle of SCN (Fig. 1).  It’s true that those yield loss estimates don’t relate directly to our current situation in NY at the moment, but the best way to avoid these potential losses is to gain a better understanding of SCN populations statewide.

Figure 1. How SCN populations increase exponentially in a field. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)

Fortunately, a network of pathologists and nematologists across the US who have been dealing with this potentially devastating pest for years have come together to fight as a unified front as an organization called the SCN Coalition.  Their website is full of useful information, resources, recommendations and much more, including proper sampling techniques, which labs you can send soil samples to for testing, and best management practices.

We highly recommend that NY soybean growers take a proactive approach at identifying and managing SCN while populations are low.  And, now is the best time to get out and take your soil samples for SCN testing.  Just because it’s only been officially confirmed in one county doesn’t mean it isn’t more widespread, or possibly even in your own fields.  And, once established in a field, management can be tricky because this pest has been developing races that have been overcoming the most widely deployed sources of genetic resistance incorporated into the majority of the commercial soybean varieties.  Check out this short video for more information on the SCN resistance issue.

Since SCN populations are likely low in fields across NY at this time, it’s important to focus your soil sampling for testing on fields with a long history of soybean production, and in areas of those fields that are most likely to harbor populations.  The most high risk areas for finding SCN in your fields include compacted areas such as entryways, areas that are frequently flooded, areas where you have found sudden death syndrome, sections with high pH, or areas of fields that you notice are consistently low-yielding (Fig. 2).  Despite your focused soil sampling efforts, you may get zeros as your test results.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that your fields are SCN-free though, because it can be challenging to detect SCN at low population levels due to the way cysts are distributed in the soil (Fig. 3).  Zeros are good, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to sample annually.

Figure 2. High-risk areas in fields where soil sampling should be focused when attempting to confirm presence of SCN. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)
Figure 3. Detecting low population levels of SCN can be challenging. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)

Although SCN management is getting more challenging as resistance is breaking down, we recommend an integrated management approach.  This would involve annual testing of your fields to know your numbers (and eventually your races of SCN), rotating SCN resistance sources in your soybean varieties, crop rotation with non-host crops (corn, wheat), and utilization of nematicidal seed treatments (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Take an integrated approach to managing SCN once detected. (Image courtesy of SCN Coalition website)

Now is the ideal time for you to collect soil samples for SCN testing.  Focus on high-risk areas outlined above, and collect 15-20 1-inch-diameter core samples, 8 inches deep from within soybean rows near the roots.  Mix the cores well and send to an SCN testing lab, following specific packaging instructions from individual facilities.  Many options are available for SCN testing facilities, including public and private labs.  Testing prices on average are around $25-$28 per sample at most SCN testing labs.  The Cornell plant disease diagnostic clinic offers this service, or you may consider one of the most highly recommended facilities which focus entirely on SCN, such as Midwest Laboratories, SCN Diagnostics, or University of Illinois Plant Clinic.  Most private and public testing facilities accept out of state samples.

For anyone interested in further, in-depth information on SCN, please check out this hour-long training webinar on the biology and management of SCN from Iowa State Nematologist Greg Tylka.

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