Fungicides: Consider Risks Vs. Rewards

With grain prices at unprecedented levels and some fungicide companies implementing aggressive marketing campaigns, many corn and soybean producers are considering applying a fungicide to increase yields. Extension experts recommend taking a closer look at the risks involved, not just results promised.

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture plant pathologists Don Hershman and Paul Vincelli say dealership agronomists and their grower-customers should consider the risks before applying fungicide to crops because its effects are unpredictable and in many cases, applications are not warranted.

“Historically, corn and soybeans are not grown under conditions that favor the development of foliar fungal diseases — the primary target of fungicide applications,” Hershman says. “Most acreage that is being treated in Kentucky does not need it for disease control.”

Producers are also treating to maximize plant health as a hedge against crop stress, Hershman says. “Some fungicides have produced higher yields compared to non-treated crops in the absence of disease, but university research trials indicate that statistically higher yields are produced only about 25 to 30 percent of the time when disease is not a factor,” he says. “Marketing literature from fungicide manufacturers suggests a much more favorable outcome than what we find in replicated studies in Kentucky and across the Midwest.”

Applying fungicide to soybeans has been done for some time now, but widespread applications to corn have only occurred during the last two years. During this time, crop prices have sharply increased; fungicide companies vamped up their marketing efforts to target corn and soybean producers, and many grain producers have had favorable results when applying fungicides. The result is an estimated 50 million acres — about 30 percent — of corn and soybeans in the U.S. will be treated with a fungicide in 2008.

If yields do increase, producers can easily recoup the cost of the fungicide and application, which is averaging about $22 an acre. But while fungicides may produce yield increases for some producers, it may result in yield loss for others.

In 2007, Vincelli and Chad Lee, UK Extension grain crops specialist, conducted experiments to test the effectiveness of fungicides on increasing corn yields under low disease and good growing conditions. The results showed no significant difference between treated and untreated plots. Vincelli says he conducted similar tests several years ago and received similar results.

Their findings are consistent with other research from across the country, which has shown fungicide applications caused modest gains in average yields for both corn and soybeans, but results greatly varied depending on the treatment and the individual crop. For example, in university studies conducted for corn in 2007, some applications produced as much as 27 more bushels per acre, but some resulted in a loss of 29 bushels per acre.

In addition to its unpredictability, fungicides could have other adverse effects. Hershman says there have been several documented cases where insect populations have soared because fungicides killed beneficial fungi, which kept populations down. This could result in growers taking on additional costs by having to purchase an insecticide. The “greening effect” of strobilurin fungicides could slow or delay harvest because grains harvested at higher moisture may require more drying. Producers should weigh these risks before deciding if the fungicide would be economical for their operation.

If your growers do decide to apply fungicide, it is important to have excellent spray coverage. Either aerial or ground spraying can accomplish this. Be sure to follow label instructions and leave an untreated strip large enough to determine the impact of spray applications.

Hershman and Vincelli encourage producers to use fungicides only when there is a significant risk for disease. Producers will get the best results from fungicides when diseases are present or likely to occur. Local Cooperative Extension Service offices can provide more information on the factors that contribute to disease risk in corn or soybeans.

Leave a Reply

Fungicides Stories
FungicidesSudden Death Syndrome, Brown Stem Rot Reported In Indiana Soybeans
September 3, 2014
Farmers and retailers should be watching for symptoms of these two diseases over the next few weeks as they are best managed through preventative methods. Read More
FungicidesResearchers Target Soybean Disease With Genetic Resistance Study
August 6, 2014
University of Illinois researchers will share new information on controlling sudden death syndrome through genetic resistance at this year's Agronomy Day. Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesValent Launches New Seed Protection Fungicide For Soybeans
July 16, 2014
The INTEGO SUITE System contains the first new, novel seed protection fungicide chemistry registered in 30 years by the EPA for protection against Pythium and Phytophthora. Read More
FungicidesNew Players May Make Pest Headlines In Corn, Soybean
April 1, 2014
The usual insects and diseases took a bit of a break in 2013, but other culprits surfaced — and could return. Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires South Dakota Retailer
April 2, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co.’s Agribusiness Division, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed Read More
CropLife 100The McGregor Co. Closes Smith-Kem Acquisition
April 2, 2015
The McGregor Co. — ranked No. 16 on the CropLife 100 list of largest U.S. ag retailers — has completed Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT Commemorates National Ag Day
March 20, 2015
The Illinois agriculture community gathered at BRANDT global headquarters on March 18 to celebrate National Ag Day behind this year's theme Sustaining Future Generations. Read More
Latest News
StewardshipTFI Announces Renewed Financial Commitment To Fertilize…
April 24, 2015
Today, The Fertilizer Institute’s (TFI) President Chris Jahn announced that TFI and over 100 partners will more than double existing Read More
Industry NewsMACA Names New Ambassador Coordinator
April 23, 2015
The Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) has named Michelle Kilper as its new Ambassador Coordinator. Michelle is a graduate of Read More
ManagementAg Retailer’s Role In Local Policy Making; Raising The …
April 23, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review their recent travels, precision ag efforts in Washington, DC, and the role of Read More
TMX-2050 In-Cab Display Launch Run Screen
Precision AgIn-Cab Computing 2015: Connectivity, Compatibility Take…
April 23, 2015
In terms of in-cab computing solutions for the agriculture market, companies like Case IH, Topcon, Trimble, John Deere and Raven Read More
USDA
StewardshipUSDA Outlines Building Blocks For Climate Smart Agricul…
April 23, 2015
Today, the USDA has announced a comprehensive and detailed approach to support farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners in their Read More
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Welcomes New Territory Sales Manager
April 23, 2015
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of Kaitlyn Acaster to the Canadian sales team. Acaster will fill the Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Opens New Research Greenhouse
April 23, 2015
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf Read More
Crop InputsDuPont Acquires Taxon Biosciences
April 23, 2015
DuPont has agreed to acquire Taxon Biosciences, Inc., a leading microbiome discovery company. This acquisition will build on DuPont’s in-house capabilities Read More
Farmer on tablet
ManagementStudy: Consumers Don’t Care If U.S. Farmers Feed …
April 23, 2015
“We’re feeding the world” is a mantra often used by those involved in farming and food to build support for Read More
Industry NewsCorporate Responsibility Magazine Names Monsanto One Of…
April 22, 2015
Corporate Responsibility Magazine (CR Magazine) named Monsanto Co. to its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2015. This is the Read More
FertilizerSpring Nitrogen Management: Form And Timing
April 22, 2015
Most corn producers have planned their spring nitrogen program for 2015, and many have already started to implement their program. Read More
FMC 3Rive 3D
Industry NewsFMC Corp. Completes Acquisition Of Cheminova
April 22, 2015
FMC Corp. has completed the closing of its acquisition of Cheminova A/S, a multinational crop protection company based in Denmark Read More
SoftwareSyngenta Expands AgriEdge Excelsior Nationwide For 2015
April 22, 2015
Growers across the country can now take the guesswork out of improving their farm’s production, land value, farm stewardship and Read More
Cornfield near Sioux City Iowa
HerbicidesU.S. Regulators May Start Testing Food For Glyphosate R…
April 21, 2015
U.S. regulators may start testing food products for residues of the world’s most widely used herbicide, EPA told Reuters’ Carey Read More
FungicidesBRANDT Adds Zonix Biofungicide To Portfolio
April 21, 2015
BRANDT has added Zonix biofungicide to its rapidly expanding line of organic and sustainable products. Zonix is a contact fungicide that Read More
ManagementMissouri Experts: Spring Planting Slow Start Won’…
April 20, 2015
In the first of the agronomy teleconferences with Extension specialists, University of Missouri Extension climatologist Pat Guinan said the slow Read More
Carl Casale of CHS
Industry NewsCooperative CHS Reports Net Income Of $471.5 Million Fo…
April 20, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has announced company net income Read More
Industry NewsCHS Insurance Names New Director Of Sales
April 17, 2015
Bryan Lewis has been named director of sales for CHS Insurance, the nation’s largest agribusiness insurance broker and full-service insurance Read More