Are you prepared for target spot?

Best practices for combatting an encroaching foliar disease

Target spot fungus has become a “when” instead of an “if” for Delta and Southeast soybean and cotton growers. The disease has hit growers hard the past five years, and there’s no reason to suspect 2019 will be any different.


Why are we talking about this in winter, far removed from the summertime conditions in which target spot thrives? It’s all about planning and proactivity. Planning ahead for a preventative, foliar fungicide application of products like Priaxor® Xemium® brand fungicide is the key to combatting target spot. Using this winter planning period to understand more about how to scout your fields and when to spray fungicides will be critical for success in preventing target spot’s encroachment in your soybeans and cotton.


What is target spot?
Target spot thrives in humid, moist conditions, which means it’s a threat in tropical or subtropical environments. But the disease has continued to encroach farther and farther north. Growing seasons with heavy rainfall have been some of the hardest hit by target spot. However, even a relatively dry 2017 provided no reprieve to growers.


One reason for the disease movement is well-managed soybeans and cotton are grown in environments ripe for target spot — those that are heavily irrigated. The added moisture, combined with summer heat, is a great recipe for the humidity that helps the foliar disease thrive. The exact conditions growers want for their soybeans and cotton are the ones that breed target spot.


What should be in my preventative plan?
Timing is critical when spraying. A soybean grower’s best bet is to spray before spotting the disease, typically around R3. Applying a fungicide like Priaxor fungicide around full flowering also allows it to get down into the lower canopy where the disease begins.


For cotton growers, a fungicide application during the first week of bloom will generally put growers ahead of the disease, BASF Technical Service Representative John Schultz said. He also recommends coming back with another application in the third week of bloom.


“I think Priaxor fungicide is an excellent tool for growers as the pressure of target spot continues to increase,” Schultz said.


Planning ahead for an application of Priaxor fungicide on your cotton or soybeans is important because once you see the lesions on your crop, you’re already too late. Use the weather forecast and your crops’ progress as triggers for when to make preventative fungicide applications.


Priaxor fungicide has been shown to provide the most consistent and reliable yield response. For a disease that can cause 50 to 80 percent defoliation in a soybean field and wipe out 15 to 20 bu/A of yield, or eliminate 400 to 600 lb/A of lint yield in cotton, consistency can mean the difference between a good year and a bad one.


University studies have shown preventative fungicide applications, such as Priaxor fungicide, can help control the disease and prevent the devastating defoliation it can bring, while also delivering Plant Health benefits that help crops stand up to the pressures of target spot and other stress factors. The combination of Plant Health benefits from Priaxor fungicide, including stress tolerance and growth efficiency along with disease control, may lead proactive growers to much higher yield returns than if they left their fields untreated.


To learn more about Priaxor fungicide and planning ahead for target spot, talk to your local BASF representative.


Always read and follow label directions.