The jury is still out on the effectiveness and feasibility of using fungicides on corn, preventatively, to boost yields. Plant pathologists continue to recommend their use in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to deal with foliar diseases.

In a study of 100-plus corn plots throughout the eastern Corn Belt, plant pathologists found that yields varied widely between fungicide-treated and untreated corn plots.

“For any given trial you could have a fungicide-treated plot out-yielding the untreated plot and an untreated plot out-yielding a treated plot,” said Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University plant pathologist. The benefit seems to be most likely during a drought.

Otherwise, “we are not sure when a positive or negative yield response is to be expected,” he says. “For example, we found that in some cases an untreated plot out-yielded a treated plot by as much as 30 bu./acre, but in other cases the fungicide-treated plot out-yielded the untreated plot by a similar margin.”

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