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Taking steps early to fight tar spot

An Iowa-based agronomist says it isn’t too early for farmers to start thinking about crop health.

Matthew Nelson with Channel says taking steps now can help farmers battle foliar diseases like tar spot later in the growing season.  He says it starts with managing crop stress.  “Sidewall compaction that’s caused routing issues, issues with fertility,” he says.  “There’s some compelling research that shows that nitrogen deficiency actually can help exacerbate this disease and in terms of how severe it is and how it can impact the corn planet and yields at the end of the season.”

He tells Brownfield farmers may also need to manage residue. “We’re pretty certain it over winters,” he says.  “And we can try to break up some of that residue with tillage. But if you’re really concerned about your inoculum load, in let’s say a corn-on-corn scenario, breaking up some of that residue and incorporating some of it, or burying it can most likely help you manage that inoculum load.”

Nelson says tar spot has become more prevalent in the Corn Belt in recent years, but there are a lot of unknowns about best management practices and the potential long-term economic impact because of its limited history. Tar spot was first discovered in the U.S. in 2015.

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