The title references the question I wished more farmers would have asked themselves earlier this summer. The decision to apply fungicide was not an easy one to make this year. Say it costs $30 per acre- breakeven equates to 10 bushels at $3 corn .
Ten bushels seemed like a lot mid-summer when the USDA was reporting excellent crop conditions and the market rarely moved in the positive direction.
Ten bushels at harvest may now seem achievable when we see tip back, light test weights, and stalk rots.
In addition to protecting the plant from foliar diseases, fungicide applications are shown to decrease the number of kernels aborted and, because of the “stay green” effect, have longer periods of grain fill. While fungicide sprayed at tassel won’t protect the stalk this late in the game, university data has shown that plants infected with leaf diseases are more prone to stalk rots. Stalks rots can cause premature plant death, leading to yield loss from reduced kernel size and weight, as well as harvest losses.
2016 had some challenges all its own here in Clarion- we saw hot temperatures during pollination and many more cloudy days than sunny. The picture below shows ears where fungicide was applied (top 4) compared to the check (bottom 4). The fungicide applied group all had 16 rows around and were 38-41 kernels long. The check had 3 ears that were 14 rows around and one with 16 rows. Length ranged from 25 to 39 kernels. How much will consistency add up to? We’ll find out in a few weeks.
Low prices don’t mean cutting costs for the sake of not paying bills. Low prices should mean making calculated decisions about inputs and spending money to make money. Consider paying the input bill versus what you could potentially pay in yield loss. That’s something to keep in mind as prepay season rolls around.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy harvest!
Questions about Hagie Manufacturing, Hagie Hybrids, or anything agronomy related? Email my at Agronomy@hagie.com.