Foliar fungicide use in hybrid maize in the United States was rare before 2000. The decade from 2000 to 2010 saw foliar fungicides increasingly applied to maize in the absence of appreciable disease pressure, a practice seemingly at odds with integrated pest management philosophy. Yet, it is commonly believed that growers do not employ management strategies unless there are perceived benefits. Maize (corn) growers (CGs) and certified crop advisors (CCAs) across four Midwestern states (Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin) were surveyed to better understand their practices, values and perceptions concerning the use of foliar fungicides during 2005 to 2009. The survey results demonstrated the rapid rise in maize foliar fungicide applications from 2000 through 2008, with 84% of CGs who sprayed having used a foliar fungicide in maize production for the very first time during 2005 to 2009. During 2005 to 2009, 73% of CCAs had recommended using a foliar fungicide, but only 35% of CGs sprayed. Perceived yield gains, conditional on having sprayed, were above the break-even point on average. However, negative yield responses were also observed by almost half of CCAs and a quarter of CGs. Hybrid disease resistance was a more important factor to economically successful maize production than foliar fungicides. Diseases as a yield-limiting factor were more important to CGs than CCAs. As a group, CGs were not as embracing of foliar fungicide as were CCAs, and remained more conservative about the perceived benefits to yield.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/alison-robertson/278/