According to a 2022 study conducted by Pioneer Field Agronomists Nate LeVan and Troy Deutmeyer, and Pioneer Agronomy Manager Dan Berning, a healthy leaf canopy plays a critical role in both stalk integrity and final yields.
Loss of healthy leaf area in corn due to factors such as foliar diseases, pest infestations, or hail damage reduces the supply of photosynthate for filling the ear, which can reduce yield.
Additionally, the study, which involved the removal of leaves between the R2 and R5 development stages, showed significant stalk cannibalization due to the remobilization of carbohydrates from the stalk to compensate for the reduction in photosynthetic capabilities.
The study illustrated the importance of the entire canopy to final yield, even as late as the R5 stage of crop development. Proactively protecting healthy leaf areas with fungicide applications when there is a risk of foliar disease infestation reaching an economic level.
“We’ve seen that the higher the yield environment, the better chance we have of a profitable yield response to a fungicide application,” Deutmeyer said.