Software Apps Made Available to Identify Tar Spot in Michigan’s Corn Fields
Dr. Damon Smith, Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, speaks during the ‘Tar Spot Summit’ held at AgReliant Genetics in Westfield, Indiana. Photo: C.J. Miller / Michigan Ag Today.

If you’re a Michigan farmer, you know how tar spot fungus can lower your corn yields. But there are a couple of different software tools available to help you identify tar spot before it becomes a problem this growing season.

“We’re trying to put that crystal ball into folks’ hands with some app tools that we’ve developed and we’re trying to just get ahead of things,” says Dr. Damon Smith, Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He says there are two software apps that you can download to your phone or computer to help you this growing season.

“The first one is a freely available app called Tarspotter. It’s available on both the Android and iPhone platform, so you can just go to the app stores for those platforms and download or search for Tarspotter,” says Smith.

“Tarspotter is a really nice tool because you can pull down cloud-based weather data—all the data stays on your phone, so you own your data. You don’t share it with anybody. The phone does all the work for you and gives you a daily risk index so you can use that to make some decisions.”

Smith says there’s a second app that’s also available to help identify tar spot fungus in corn.

“We also have a spin-off company from the University of Wisconsin-Madison called Field Prophet,” according to Smith. “We’ve actually added to that tool, so we have trend lines and we have forecasts in that particular tool, so that’s a nice one if you want to really plan ahead.”

There is a fee to download and use the Field Prophet app.

Dr. Smith adds that both apps can certainly help during the growing season. However, he also recommends getting ahead of tar spot by using fungicides and the right corn hybrids with the highest level of tar spot tolerance.

“First and foremost, don’t forget about tar spot. Last year was a low tar spot year and when that happens, we tend to forget. We still need to keep it right at the top of our diseases we’re going to need to manage,” says Smith.

“Then, I think producers should focus on hybrid resistance. I know a lot of the seed probably has been bought by now, but if you’re still trying to make those decisions, work with your seed dealer and try to find the most resistant hybrids you can find to fit your farm,” says Smith.

Click HERE for the link to download the Tarspotter app.

Click HERE for the link to download the Field Prophet app.

Click BELOW for C.J. Miller’s news story and interview with Dr. Damon Smith with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as he discusses the software apps available to help identify tar spot in corn fields.