Fungicides and new herbicides were the focus of a stop at the recent field day at yield maestro Kip Cullers’ Stark City, Mo., farm.

Kixor is a new herbicide that BASF hopes to have registered in 2009.

“The significance of Kixor is its excellence on broadleaf weeds,” said Mike Hofer, Kixor product manager for BASF. “It’s extremely effective from a burndown perspective as well as a pre-emergent on corn. As we speak with growers, broadleaf weeds are the number one weed control issue today in corn.”

On his operation, Cullers begins with a pre-emergent herbicide application of Guardsman Max. The product controls a large spectrum of grass as well as broadleaf weeds.

“Most importantly, it controls weeds early. Research indicates that when weeds reach 2 inches in height, it starts to damage yield. Keeping those weeds controlled early is very important for optimum yield.”

In addition, across the Midwest, “we’ve seen abundant rains where planting was very difficult. There were replants, flood outs, drown outs. Then, weeds emerged — particularly if they didn’t have a pre-emergent herbicide application — and farmers continued to battle the weeds all season long and couldn’t get in front of them.”

Roundup Ready soybeans entered the market in 1996 and Roundup Ready corn several years later. Now, “people are continuing to use glyphosate over and over. We need new products to manage glyphosate tolerance.”

Status, a broadleaf weed herbicide, can help.

“Status over-the-top in corn — whether Roundup Ready or conventional — is broad-spectrum, very safe and very simple to add to improve weed control. Kip has used it for the past two years.”

In pushing the use of fungicides at the field day, the overriding message to farmers was: protect your investment.

“The cost of everything has gone up over the past several years — seed, fertilizer, fuel, land rental,” said Gary Smith, BASF technical service manager for the Midwest. “You want to make sure to protect your investment so, at the end of the year, you’ll maximize harvest.”

Cullers uses Headline fungicide across all his acres.

“This year, he tank-mixed Headline with Respect insecticide, a pyrethroid that controls most pests that feed on the foliage, especially those that feed on the silk.”

With Headline “you get disease control of all major foliar diseases — gray leaf spot, common rust, southern rust, northern and southern corn leaf blight, anthracnose. Headline protects your crop from diseases that take little bites out of your yield.”

Not only is it protecting from those diseases but it also improves the overall plant health, said Smith. “What that means is you’ll see better heat and drought tolerance. At the end of the year, you’ll have healthier plants. Often, the stalks will be stronger, will stand better at the end of the year and will make harvest more efficient.”

This year, the corn crop is about two weeks behind average — “and, in some cases, with replants in Iowa and Illinois, they’re four weeks behind. Those guys will be pushing that late harvest and they need to make sure that corn stands the best it can.”

Headline is a thoroughly researched and tested product, said Smith, “not only at the time it was being developed but also after launch since using a foliar fungicide on hybrid corn was a pretty rare thing.”

BASF went to the growers and retailers to help set up test plots. Over the last four years, “we’ve had about 1,500 on-farm grower trials. (By using the product) we saw about a 12- to 15-bushel increase, on average.

“What that means is, whether corn is $3 or $6 per acre, we’re seeing a good return on investment by using Headline.”

When is it best applied?

For best plant health, “we recommend using Headline, sight unseen, right about the time the tassel comes out to around brown silk. … Typical rate for hybrid corn is about 6 ounces per acre. Most is going out by airplane but 10 percent, or so, is going out by ground application. Either one is fine.”

BASF also recommends a planned program.

“When you’re thinking about purchasing your seed, it’s a good time to start thinking about putting Headline on. That’s because if you’re going with an aerial application, it’s pretty important to get that scheduled and coordinated so you can get on the books and in line. There are a limited number of airplanes out there.”

Does improved plant health through using Headline mean higher grain moisture at harvest?

“You can look at it that way, but what we’re seeing is a plant that lives longer,” said Smith. “Lots of times we see a premature death due to disease. You may be harvesting a week, or so, earlier if a disease makes the (plants) die earlier.”

Headline allows corn to live a full life. The difference between a treated and untreated field “might mean a 0.5 percent difference in moisture.”

Does Headline use help with aflatoxin in drought conditions?

“Headline isn’t labeled for aflatoxin. … At this time, we’ve not seen anything we can say is optimistic about (Headline) controlling aflatoxin.”

When applying Headline in soybeans, how much water should be used?

“For (ground applications) we like to see at least 15 gallons of water per acre. We think that provides better coverage. Some guys drop it down to 12 gallons and do a good job but the standard recommendation is 15 gallons.”

Ever try Headline on grain sorghum?

“Yes, and hopefully we’ll get it labeled,” said Hofer. “Sorghum tends to lodge fairly severely by the end of the season. Headline provides better standability and, at the end of the day, that improves yield. I think we’re still a year away from that, though.”

For more on Cullers’ farm and work with BASF/Pioneer, see http://deltafarmpress.com/searchresults/?ord=d&terms=cullers.