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Managing Rice Kernel and False Smut with Fungicides
Author: Yeshi Wamishe, Extension Rice Plant Pathologist

By Yeshi Wamishe, Extension Rice Pathologist

To guard your rice crop from kernel and false smut, a protective fungicide application should be made from early boot to mid-boot for optimum suppression. Currently, triazole fungicides containing propiconazole (Tilt equivalents) or difenoconazole are the commercially available fungicide options to suppress these smuts. 

Fungicide application decisions for kernel and false smut are often based on field history, varietal susceptibility and your cultural management strategies, particularly pre-flood nitrogen fertilization. Under favorable conditions most rice cultivars including hybrid rice are susceptible.  Scouting for these diseases is unnecessary since proactive application is required.

Fungicides applied with higher volumes of water render good canopy coverage and better protection. Therefore, this should be taken seriously in your application decision. Kernel smut fungus is more sensitive to the fungicides than false smut fungus. 

Fungicides Recommendations: Stand-alone fungicides such as Tilt, Bumper, or Propimax; or combination (premix) fungicides such as Quilt Xcel, Quilt, Stratego or Amistar Top can be used. Check for amounts at Fungicides and Fungicide Timings for Selected Rice Diseases . To read more on disease management go to managing-diseases-fungicides.

Figure 1. Benefit from fungicide application is much reduced after late boot.

The common mistakes in fungicide application to suppress kernel and false smut:

  1. Waiting too long  (Figure 1).
  2. Using inadequate volume of water to fungicides. For adequate canopy coverage, use a minimum of 10 gallons.

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