Cropduster flying over the corn and soybean field. steverts/iStock/GettyImages

Late season fungicide apps: Worth the money?

Planes and helicopters above fields make good photo opportunities, but I'm not sold on yield benefits just yet.

I’m a sucker for sad, slow, 1980’s country music. Dan Seals’ song, “Everything that Glitters” doesn’t disappoint in any of those categories. It’s a song about how not everything that looks fantastic turns out to be so. I expect many farmers will disagree with me on this topic, but so be it. For me, later season fungicide soybean applications are the glitter that may not be gold. 

It's the time of year when soybeans are entering reproductive stages and farmers are making decisions about fungicide and insecticide applications. We've dabbled in fungicides in both corn and soybeans but haven't seen concrete yield increases at harvest. Maybe fungicides work best when crops have disease problems.

Many folks claim that fungicide is a consistent winner for soybeans. Some farmers swear by it and apply on every acre. It seems like the companies making and selling fungicide can always prove that it pays. As for ag retailers, sometimes I think that these late season applications are just another revenue stream during the lull until fall fertilizer time.  

Needed: More bushels

Now that soybeans are sub $9 per bushel, we need more bushels to cover the expense. I took it upon myself to look up soybean fungicide trials on the tried and true Google search. Much to my surprise, several university and state organization trials typically showed some yield increases, but usually just enough to cover product and application costs.

More so, one trial showed that an insecticide-only application increased yield more than fungicide-only. Planes and helicopters above our fields make good photo opportunities, but I'm not sold on yield benefits just yet. Instead of spraying all fields, we are trying it on a soybean-after-soybean field this year. I'm of the belief that if everyone is doing one thing, I should do something different. If someone wants to prove to me that fungicides work, I'm all ears!

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

TAGS: Management
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