Maize eyespot risk on the rise

Maize growers should be on the lookout for eyespot following this week’s wet weather, with the disease having the potential to reduce yields by up to 50%.

Mole Valley’s arable and fertiliser sales manager Graham Ragg says maize becomes more prone to infection with summer temperatures ranging from 10C to 12C and sustained dampness over a period of time. “Maize fields where trash from previous maize crops, or fields next to crops where the trash from previous years hasn’t been buried by ploughing are most at risk.”

Historically, the disease has attacked crops one to two weeks before harvest. Generally the advice then is to harvest as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of infection. “However, recent extreme wet summers have seen the disease attack the crop at a much earlier stage, sometimes up to two months before harvest and before cobs have properly filled,” he explains.

The disease, which results in leaves becoming brown and papery, causing grain fill to cease, was last year controlled by specific off-label approval for the use of Comet fungicide. “The fungicide is best applied before the disease is seen from the 10 leaf stage.”

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