Pencil Out Fungicide Profitability

  • Tillage and crop rotation. Fungal spores overwinter in soil and plant debris left behind with conservation tillage practices. Generally, these fields contain more fungal spore populations, thus increasing the likelihood of disease when conditions are favorable for infection. Fields with limited crop rotation are also at a higher risk for disease infection.
  • Seed genetics. Review seed choices when you’re trying to prioritize fungicide applications with limited input dollars. Most seed guides will rate a seed hybrid or variety based on its susceptibility to disease infection. While this serves as a good reference, keep in mind that usually these ratings are based on visual observations and don’t take into account actual yield responses. Hybrids and varieties that are more susceptible to disease are usually more responsive to a fungicide application. Thus, you’ll get a better return on your investment if you focus your fungicide dollars there.
  • Seed placement. While choosing the right genetics is important, you need to go one step further and make sure you’re placing the right genetics on the right acre. For example, low-lying areas that hold moisture are more prone to disease and would be well-suited for a hybrid with more disease resistance. Keep notes of disease pressure by field so that you have a historical record of what to expect depending on environmental conditions. Survey your fields AND your genetics to make sure you’re placing the right seed on the right acre to limit disease risk.
  • Environmental conditions. One of the biggest risk factors (and one that is largely out of your control) is weather conditions. Most fungal diseases thrive in moist, warm conditions. If you’ve had an extended period of wet weather, it’s a good idea to start scouting for diseases. If the future forecast is hot and dry there’s a good chance disease progression will halt and a fungicide application may not be necessary.

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