Late Season Plant Health Benefits Utilizing Micronutrients and Fungicides

Thinking about late season crop management? There’s actually no better time than now to be thinking about it, says Brad Ruden, Agtegra Agronomy Technical Services Manager. Season-long plant health is best launched with pro-active thought strategies now, says Ruden, which “keep the yield factory rolling.” Agtegra has not only product plant but also several financing programs underway to help growers jumpstart investment management.

That plant factory, says Ruden, can be enhanced by fungicides and micronutrients that provide a three-fold approach for maintaining and boosting corn and soybean productivity. “We want our plants to be factories of grain production,” says Ruden. “Disease control, plant health, and growth and development are the agronomic dynamics that power that factory all season long.”

It begins with disease control. Foliar diseases in corn, like rust or gray leaf spot, can be issues. Watch, scout and assess fungicide options with your agronomist. Soybeans, generally, are considered more disease-prone and problematic. Septoria Brown Spot and WhiteMold, among others, are a few yield-robbers that may need to be managed.

The idea of fungicides is to maintain all the leaf area so the plants can maximize their photosynthetic abilities,” says Ruden. Application timing is always crucial, but especially in soybeans, to protect leaves and pod set. Adding one more pod through late season disease control management, while not as visually apparent as a well-filled corn ear, has the economic potential to add bushels to soybean yield. 

In the plant health department of the corn factory, says Ruden, stress during the usual high-temp/low-moisture late summer cycle can impact plants. With environmental stressors potentially affecting yield, a plant health-based fungicide application around tassling time can positively impact bushels per acre. “If we can keep plants from leaf rolling just a few extra hours a day, that extends the factory window of building yield, rather than just being in survival mode,” says Ruden.

The plant health application concept applies to soybeans, too, through promotion of growth from higher photosynthesis rates and increased nitrogen use. Improved plant health improves pod set and reduces leaf loss. “For both crops, it’s about protecting growth and enhancing stress tolerance, which helps achieve higher yield potential, through strategic plant-health based management,” says Ruden.

That last component for corn and soybeans, says Ruden, is the micronutrient side. “There are micronutrients that are absolutely critical to crop growth and development,” he explains. “But if one of them is short, no matter how much availability you have of the major nutrients—the N, the P, the K and others—plant growth and development basically stops at the point when that particular micronutrient is in short supply.”

Having the right balance of micronutrients is as vital to crop production as macronutrient management. Scouting, tissue-testing and applying micronutrient applications before critical deficiencies develop will help finish out the season strongly.
“Keeping that factory at full production, that’s our strategy,” says Ruden. “These fungicides and micronutrients, as the season progresses, are about keeping that crop healthy so we don’t have anything that interferes with that whole process. Anything that cuts back on number of kernels or pods, ultimately affects our whole bottom line.”             

Talk to your local Agtegra agronomist about plant health strategies that optimize yield and financing options that can defer payments through purchase of qualified products. To further maximize profitability, ask about the Top Profits programs for corn and soybeans.

“The intent with our programs and at the core of these strategies, is to maximize yield and sustainability. It’s not always about spending less per acre, but spending on the right inputs, to take your yield forward,” he says.


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