Research HighlightsThis Season, Use Sporecaster and Sporebuster Applications to Help Make White Mold Fungicide Decisions
Damon Smith, Project Leader, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Co-investigators: Mehdi Kabbage, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Daren Mueller, Iowa State University and Martin Chilvers, Michigan State University
To assist soybean farmers in the decision-making process for fungicide use for white mold, we developed and released two smartphone applications in 2018. Both are available as free downloads on the Google Play Store and iPhone app store.
Sporecaster is used to determine if a crop is at risk for white mold and advises if a fungicide treatment should be made. This application is meant to be run in-season and uses site-specific weather information to provide the risk prediction. A companion app, Sporebuster, assists soybean farmers in making a decision on specific fungicide programs that could be profitable for their operation.
The best time to spray fungicides for control of white mold is during soybean flowering and when apothecia are present on the soil surface. Apothecia are small, mushroom-like structures on the soil surface which release spores that infect senescing soybean flowers, leading to the development of white mold.
University research has indicated that the appearance of apothecia can be predicted using several variables including weather and the extent of canopy closure in a specific field. Based on this research, the Sporecaster model was developed to forecast the risk of apothecia being present. You will need to scout your field to determine if the soybean crop meets thresholds such as canopy closure and the presence of flowers.
The companion application, Sporebuster, is a “return-on-investment” application that uses research-based economic models to determine if a particular fungicide treatment for white mold control will result in a high probability of success on a case-by-case basis. Users can input the cost for various fungicide programs and use their own yield and soybean pricing scenarios to get tailored recommendations.
The applications are free to use. They were developed with checkoff support provided by the North Central Soybean Research Program, Wisconsin Soybean Association, Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, Michigan Soybean Promotion Board, and the United Soybean Board, and programmed by personnel in the Nutrient and Pest Management program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Sporecaster received the 2018 American Society of Agronomy Extension Education Award in the category of digital decision aids.
For information on how to use the apps, including video tutorials, see “New smartphone app: Sporecaster, The Soybean White Mold Forecaster” and Sporebuster, White Mold Fungicide Value Calculator, in the University of Wisconsin Integrated Pest and Crop Management newsletter.
Photo: Apothecia of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, the white mold pathogen, on the soil surface. See: White Mold,Soybean Disease Management Series, CPN1005.