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Probabilities for Profitable Fungicide Use Against Gray Leaf Spot in Hybrid Maize

May 2001 , Volume 91 , Number  5
Pages  477 - 484

G. P. Munkvold , C. A. Martinson , J. M. Shriver , and P. M. Dixon

First, second, and third authors: Department of Plant Pathology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011; and fourth author: Department of Statistics, Iowa State University, Ames 50011

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Accepted for publication 18 January 2001.

Gray leaf spot, caused by the fungus Cercospora zeae-maydis, causes considerable yield losses in hybrid maize grown in the north-central United States and elsewhere. Nonchemical management tactics have not adequately prevented these losses. The probability of profitably using fungicide application as a management tool for gray leaf spot was evaluated in 10 field experiments under conditions of natural inoculum in Iowa. Gray leaf spot severity in untreated control plots ranged from 2.6 to 72.8% for the ear leaf and from 3.0 to 7.7 (1 to 9 scale) for whole-plot ratings. In each experiment, fungicide applications with propiconazole or mancozeb significantly reduced gray leaf spot severity. Fungicide treatment significantly (P ≤ 0.05) increased yield by as much as 1.65 t/ha with a single propiconazole application. There were significant (P < 0.05) correlations between gray leaf spot severity and yield. We used a Bayesian inference method to calculate for each experiment the probability of achieving a positive net return with one or two propiconazole applications, based on the mean yields and standard deviations for treated and untreated plots, the price of grain, and the costs of the fungicide applications. For one application, the probability ranged from approximately 0.06 to more than 0.99, and exceeded 0.50 in six of nine scenarios (specific experiment/hybrid). The highest probabilities occurred in the 1995 experiments with the most susceptible hybrid. Probabilities were almost always higher for a single application of propiconazole than for two applications. These results indicate that a single application of propiconazole frequently can be profitable for gray leaf spot management in Iowa, but the probability of a profitable application is strongly influenced by hybrid susceptibility. The calculation of probabilities for positive net returns was more informative than mean separation in terms of assessing the economic success of the fungicide applications.

Additional keywords: Bayesian statistics , corn , economic benefits , foliar disease .

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society