By Darren Hefty

When you hear of corporate layoffs in times of low profits, who are the first people they let go?  Generally speaking, it’s the newest employees.  If you’re looking at making some cuts in your crop protection budget, I’ll argue that some of the newer things you’ve been doing may not be the best place to shave expenses.


Fungicides are one of those newer things on many farms that really shouldn’t get cut.  The dilemma is that for foliar fungicides to perform their best, they need to be applied BEFORE you see a disease show up in the field.  This leads to a tough decision.  I don’t SEE a problem.  Maybe I won’t HAVE a crop disease this year.  Should I skip the fungicide app?

Take a longer range view of your farm and look over the last 3 or 4 years.  How often are you having a disease problem?  When you do, how much yield do you gain by applying a fungicide?  Also, what kind of gain do you see by having a healthier plant that is more resistant to other yield limiting factors?

Take soybeans for example.  The average yield gain for a single fungicide application at R2-R3 (full bloom to first pod) is around 3 bushels per acre.  With soybeans around $10 per bushel, that’s a $30 average response!  The good news is fungicide prices are down and generic alternatives are available, so the ROI for fungicide applications is anywhere from 2 to 1 up to 10 to 1.

Is 2017 going to be a big year for crop diseases?  It’s impossible to know for sure, but looking at the level of disease pressure farmers saw across the country in 2016, it’s definitely a possibility that this year could have more diseases.  Some diseases, like rusts for example, blow up from the south each year.  In that case, previous history of disease issues is irrelevant to your chances of rust happening this year.  However, other diseases like sclerotinia white mold or target spot can overwinter in fields and be even more of a problem in future seasons.


  1. As with other crop protection products, the best deal of the year comes with early prepay.
  2. 0% Financing offers are out there from some of the major crop protection manufacturers with payments due in December 2017.
  3. Rebates are available on certain name brand fungicides when you also buy another product (often one of the leading herbicides from the same manufacturer).
  4. There are many fungicides that are lower in price again this year.  When spraying early on small crop, you can find half rates, depending on the product, for as little as $2 to $4 per acre!  Check out all the fungicide alternatives, because your net fungicide cost compared to just 3 years ago could be down over 50%!!