Can Headline fungicide do for cotton producers what studies indicate the material has done to improve disease control and the overall plant health of corn and soybeans in recent years?

That's a question some growers will have the opportunity to answer this year after EPA granted a Section 3 registration for the application of the fungicide for foliar applications on their crop.

“We've been looking at Headline in cotton since 2003,” said Scott Asher, diversified regional manager, tech service, BASF, “and we're excited to say that some of those benefits we've been seeing in other crops such as corn and soybeans are also conveying over into cotton.”

BASF announced that EPA had approved the new use for Headline during a meeting for cotton consultants prior to the 2008 Beltwide Cotton Conference in Nashville. The company says the plant health benefits of Headline have helped deliver high corn and soybean yields.

“But growers have seen something more,” said Amber Shirley, a scientist with BASF, who also spoke at the consultants' meeting.

“We call this increase in disease control and the enhanced ability to handle crop stress plant health.

“In corn, we have seen yield increases ranging from 12 to 16 bushels per acre where Headline was applied preventively,” she said. “The applications have resulted in healthier, cleaner stalks and less lodged corn.

Greg Stapleton, a BASF technical service representative, began testing Headline on cotton in west Tennessee in 2003, said Asher. “From there, we expanded our trial work within our biology group and tech service group across the Cotton Belt,” said Asher.

Headline is the first fully registered foliar fungicide available for cotton producers, Asher notes. Previously, fungicides have been registered for seed treatments and in-furrow applications but not for spraying on the cotton plant.

“What we've been able to see is that it is a very dynamic compound,” he said. “It controls a number of diseases that have shown up in the Cotton Belt. That's in the Mid-South, in the Southeast and even in the western areas.”

In a trial in Mississippi, Headline delivered disease control and provided plant health benefits that helped treated cotton yield 133.8 pounds of lint per acre more than untreated cotton, Asher said.

“In a Georgia cotton fungicide study, Headline showed outstanding results by controlling Ascochyta ‘wet weather blight” that caused 90 percent defoliation in untreated cotton. Cotton treated with Headline had less than 10 percent defoliation.”

In an Arkansas on-farm trial, he said, cotton treated with Headline controlled high infestations of Alternaria leaf spot, providing improved plant health and yielding 194.4 pounds of lint per acre more than untreated cotton.

All told, he said, “In 40 field trials from 2003 to 2007, Headline protected plants from disease enhancing plant health and helped treated cotton yield an average 65 pounds of lint per acre over untreated cotton.”

Other diseases include such foliar and boll rot diseases as anthracnose, Cercospora blight and leaf spot, Diplodia boll rot, hard lock, Phoma blight, rust and Stemphyllium leaf spot. Seedling diseases Rhizoctonia and Pythium are also on the label with the recommendation of an in-furrow application.

Headline can be tank-mixed with an insecticide and mixed with Pentia, BASF's plant growth regulator, to be applied as a foliar spray to reduce application costs, says Asher.