Tar Spot Infects Cornfields, Influences 2023 Seed Decisions

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Plan a Two-step Approach Against Tar Spot and Its Rapid Spread Across the Corn Belt

INDIANAPOLIS — Dark brown leaf spots. Loose kernels. Spongy ears. Tar spot is striking fear in a growing number of fields across the Corn Belt. The bright spot for farmers, however, is that there are ways to proactively manage the fast-spreading disease and now is the best time to prepare.

“This is the first season where tar spot has shown up in a noticeable way in western Iowa,” said Tony Moellers, Retail Product Agronomist for the Brevant® seeds brand. “With seed selection for 2023 top of mind, farmers should prepare now for increased pressure next season and select hybrids with genetic protection to give their fields a better chance against the disease.”

After its debut in eastern Midwest states, tar spot is quickly moving west. Alongside ag retail, agronomists for the Brevant seeds brand advise farmers to put tar spot at the top of the list of considerations for 2023 corn seed.

Here are two ways to tackle tar spot next season:

  1. Select hybrids with genetic resistance. Corteva Agriscience scientists have been studying tar spot and screening hybrids to develop a rating scale that accurately communicates a hybrid’s level of tolerance, based on multiple years of observations in multiple locations. Some hybrids show more tolerance to the disease than others.

    “If you suspect tar spot pressure, make sure you’re asking your seed adviser for hybrid tolerance ratings before selecting seed,” Moellers said. “Genetic protection is a farmer’s first line of defense against the disease, and there are numerous Brevant seeds products that have been vetted and established to have a high level of tolerance against tar spot.”
  2. Fight back with scouting and fungicides. Tar spot presents more challenges the earlier it appears and, left unchecked, it can significantly impact yield and late-season stalk integrity.

    Although there is no known way to prevent tar spot, scouting is a proven method to get ahead of the disease and make smart fungicide choices. By scouting early and often, farmers can make better decisions on when and how to treat the disease.

    “Don’t let it surprise you,” Moellers said. “If the environment favors tar spot, it can appear at any time and spread rapidly. Fungicide application is not optional in the fight against tar spot; it’s mandatory to protect yield potential and plant health.”

Farmers have become skilled at tackling known corn diseases over the years, but tar spot is still new to many U.S. fields, and it is aggressive. Don’t find out the hard way in 2023. Together with tolerant corn hybrids, fungicides help protect yield potential during grain fill stages and the critical dry down period. For more information about managing tar spot and which corn hybrids can help, visit your local ag retailer and visit Brevant.com/Articles/Tar-spot-ratings.


Brevant® seeds demonstrate agronomic strength in a Jefferson County, Wisconsin, field affected by tar spot.

Corn leaves infected with tar spot.

About Brevant seeds in the U.S.

Brevant® seeds is a high-performance corn and soybean brand from Corteva Agriscience that provides industry-leading seed and service exclusively to retail. Brevant seeds sets itself apart by providing a unique way of doing business driven by its field experts teamed with local retailers.

For more information about Brevant seeds in the U.S., visit Brevant.com or follow Brevant on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.                     

About Corteva Agriscience

Corteva, Inc. (NYSE: CTVA) is a publicly traded, global pure-play agriculture company that combines industry-leading innovations, high-touch customer engagement and operational execution to profitably deliver solutions for the world’s most pressing agriculture challenges. Corteva generates advantaged market preference through its unique distribution strategy, together with its balanced and globally diverse mix of seed, crop protection, and digital products and services. With some of the most recognized brands in agriculture and a technology pipeline well positioned to drive growth, the company is committed to maximizing productivity for farmers, while working with stakeholders throughout the food system as it fulfills its promise to enrich the lives of those who produce and those who consume, ensuring progress for generations to come. More information can be found at www.corteva.com.

Follow Corteva on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

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Larissa Capriotti
+55 (11) 9 9358-4006

Sarah Petersheim