Despite some of the most challenging growing conditions in decades, 2011 crops rebounded well, allowing many corn and soybean growers to capitalize on high commodity prices. Growers who implemented proactive crop protection practices, including use of preventative fungicides to control disease and promote plant health, proved that intensively managed acres help growers get the most out of every acre.

“The wet, late spring had growers bracing for the worst,” said Nick Fassler, technical market manager for BASF. “While harvest results showed a lot of variability in both yield and quality, it was a profitable year for growers across the Midwest. Those that intensively managed their acres and used preventative crop protection application practices are seeing even higher profits.”

Nationwide, yields landed below the five-year average, but with the high price of grains, many growers saw profitable returns. In many cases, those who planned ahead for their herbicide and fungicide applications saw greater success than others.

Although yield increases of this nature are not typical, growers who follow a planned approach often see a profitable return on inves tment. Looking forward to next year, it’s important for growers to evaluate the effectiveness of their management practices in 2011 and use what they have learned to make improvements in 2012. The latest research on proactive crop management programs can also provide valuable guidance.

“We strongly encourage growers to start thinking about next year’s crop shortly after harvest,” Fassler said. “Looking to next season, we recommend that growers think about the right seed varieties based on expected disease pressures, as well as planning ahead for a residual herbicide application and ideal timing for a preventative fungicide to help squeeze the most out of each acre.”

Many growers recognize the value of this approach, according to a recent survey conducted by BASF Crop Protection. The survey showed that 83 percent of row crop growers agree that a preventative fungicide application is necessary, because once disease is present, yield has already been lost. A nearly equal number of respondents said a planned fungicide helps gain more yield than fields left unprotected.

High commodity prices, as well as an increased focus on risk management, means more and more growers are looking for ways to intensively manage their corn and soybean acres.