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Should No-Tillers Apply Fungicides Every Year?

University experts, experienced no-tillers weigh in on profitable fungicide management strategies for corn and soybeans.

Record-high 2008 corn and soybean prices arguably meant that a fungicide application — or any other input that nudged up yields — paid for itself and then some.
 
But whether fungicides continue to be a tool that can be used profitably on a yearly basis as commodity prices settle is up for debate.  

At an applied cost of around $25 per acre, producers need to see more than a 7.5-bushel-per-acre advantage for $3.25 corn and more than a 3-bushel advantage for $8 soybeans to break even on a fungicide application.

Manufacturers say results show that fungicides typically provide a payback in today’s economy:

  • BASF claims more than 7,000 farm trials have shown that Headline fungicide increases yield by 12 to 16 bushels per acre in corn and 4 to 8 bushels per acre in soybeans.
  • Data from Bayer CropScience indicates that Stratego fungicide delivers an average increase of 7.8 bushels per acre in corn and 3.2 bushels per acre in soybeans.
  • Quadris from Syngenta has shown a 5.5-bushel-per-acre yield advantage in soybeans.

In the last 5 years, fungicide use has exploded in the United States, which means there are a lot of producers who should be pushing the pencil on fungicide profitability as markets shift.

“In 2003, there were almost no corn acres treated with fungicides and few soybean acres. Now, we’re treating 40 to 50 million acres of corn and soybeans each year,” says Don Hershman, University of Kentucky Extension plant pathologist.

The initial bump in fungicide use on…

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