Pythium and Phytophthora: These water molds are favored by cool, wet conditions that delay emergence. Phytophthora is much more aggressive when soil temperatures are above 55° F and soils are saturated for more than 24 hours.

"Seedling diseases caused by fungi can be extremely destructive on corn and soybeans," says Scott Heuchelin, Pioneer research scientist, field pathology. "Fungicidal seed treatments are a great way to protect the seedling for the first few weeks until the plant has emerged and is well established," he says. "Suboptimal field conditions, such as prolonged saturated soils, can diminish a fungicidal seed treatment's effectiveness. Saturated soils also stress the germinating seed with low oxygen conditions that make germinating seeds more susceptible to fungi like Pythium and Phytophthora."

 

Management Suggestions

Compared to other seasons, the importance of scouting the fields for insect pests has never been greater. Fields with previous seedling blight issues and no-till or non-rotated fields are at greater risk of seedling blights. To catch possible problems early on, ideally growers should examine their fields at least once a week and observe emergence. Delayed or uneven emergence may indicate a fungal or insect pest is affecting seedling establishment.