From seeds rotting in the ground to alfalfa pods deteriorating at harvest, a season-long understanding of diseases is becoming more and more important.Traditionally, disease scouting has coincided with a sales pitch for an expensive fungicide. The only diseases farmers were educated on are the ones that products existed for. Scouting only for diseases that can be controlled with fungicides is a mistake. Today, the focus is on having a clear understanding of all diseases that are present on the farm. The goal is to minimize the impact diseases have on the yield and quality. If a fungicide or seed treatment is available and is proven to provide a return on investment, then it may be a wise decision. However, in most cases the goal is to use crop rotation, variety selection, and other cultural techniques that cost nothing.
Disease Wrecks, Controls, and Avoidance Techniques
A disease wreck is a costly learning experience. If we just close our eyes to what is happening in the field then we have no information that helps us to avoid that mistake from happening again. An investment in fungicide for disease control that ends up profiting nothing is also a costly learning experience. In some cases the crop badly needs a fungicide but there is not enough agronomic information available to make a wise decision. In what conditions will seed treatments and foliar fungicides provide a significant return? Fungicide trials and past disease monitoring information provide the technical support required when making a decision for the future. Disease control decisions need to be made before we actually know what is going to happen. It is a protection against future fungicidal attack. With a good knowledge base of the local area and what is happening in the fields, this information can go a long way in determining when to treat and when not to treat. Crop rotation planning should include warning signals for potential disease issues.
Avoidance is the best plan of attack. It provides the lowest costs and risks.