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Tar Spot Damage in Indiana’s Corn May Be Reduced Thanks to Hot, Dry Weather

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Brian Saylor from Pittsboro in Hendricks County, is an agronomist with Golden Harvest. Saylor stands next to a corn field at the Golden Harvest Agronomy and Action Site in Boone County. Photo: C.J. Miller / Hoosier Ag Today.

Tar spot has been a headache for many Indiana corn growers over the past several years. However, there are reports that the hot, dry conditions this summer may have lowered the amount of damage that tar spot could have otherwise caused.

“It’s been a yield robber for us,” says Brian Saylor from Pittsboro in Hendricks County who is an agronomist with Golden Harvest.  He says the hot, dry weather so far this summer has helped to minimize the harmful effects of tar spot in Indiana’s corn.

“With the dry conditions, we haven’t seen the tar spot come in as heavy as we did last year,” according to Saylor. “In that Fort Wayne and northeastern Indiana territory, we’re starting to see little specks of tar spot coming on, but again, the heat is actually a good thing. It’s drying those water droplets off the leaves and it doesn’t carry through the day like we had last summer. It’s something we’re very aware of and we want to make sure we have some good controls in in place and fungicides.”

Brian says tar spot has been more prevalent in northern and central Indiana, but it has been slowing creeping its way across the southern parts of the state.

“It’s been moving further south with storms coming in from the northwest and blowing to the south, and then, obviously it carries through the next year, and so it’s in the soils probably for a while now and so we just [have] to learn how to manage it and use hybrids that are best tolerant to tar spot.”

Examples of tar spot in corn.

Saylor recommends several hybrids developed by Golden Harvest for next year’s growing season.

“It’s just finding those key hybrids that have good tolerance like 13P84 from Golden Harvest. It’s a 113-day [hybrid] that has very good tolerance to it and has great plant health. [Also], 10D21 is a 110-day product from Golden Harvest. It has excellent tolerance to tar spot and great yield potential.”

Brian says the Golden Harvest hybrids also work well against other causes of stress.

“We want to make sure we have a great product that has colors to tolerance to gray leaf Spot, northern corn leaf blight and tar spot,” according to Saylor. “At Golden Harvest, we’ve been screening a lot of our hybrids for the last three years and putting it through a rigorous test in tar spot heavy areas to see where our tolerance ratings are at, and so we rate all over hybrids at Golden Harvest with tar spot.”

Click BELOW to hear more from Brian Saylor, an agronomist with Golden Harvest, as he discusses the Golden Harvest hybrids that can fight off tar spot for next year’s growing season.

Corn leaves showing the varied symptoms of tar spot.