Strong commodity prices mean corn and soybean growers have excellent profit potential if they can produce good yield, control costs and manage risk. But are growers taking full advantage of the opportunity?

A recent survey by BASF shows that 83 percent of corn and soybean growers, primarily located in the Midwest, agreed that preventative fungicide application is necessary because once disease is present, yield is already lost. However, 57 percent of those surveyed who used a fungicide in 2011 said they make their fungicide application decision in-season, based on weather and/or disease pressure.

By definition, a preventative fungicide application involves applying a fungicide product to a crop before any disease incidence has been spotted. Research shows growers who take the necessary steps to prevent their crop from troubling diseases benefit at the end of the season.

Preventative fungicide applications protect crops from diseases by stopping infections before they begin. Disease pressure can account for yield loss of up to 50 percent, depending on the severity of disease incidence1. For example, in gray leaf spot research, crops with 6 to 25 percent affected ear leaf area saw an approximate yield loss of 2 to 10 percent. A preventative fungicide application helps stop disease from occurring, which protects yield potentials while providing Plant Health benefits like better standability.

In seven years of testing and more than 6,000 on-farm trials, BASF has seen an average of a 4 to 8 bushel per acre increase in soybean yield over untreated acres when using Headline fungicide preventatively. Results from 137 on-farm trials in 2011 show a 12.8 bushel per acre yield increase with an application of Headline AMP™ fungicide on corn compared to untreated fields.

“More and more growers are learning about the positive returns possible with a preventative fungicide application,” said Nick Fassler, BASF Technical Market Manager. “And with commodity prices as high as they’ve been, it makes more sense than ever to make plans for controlling disease in 2012.”

Additional survey results

The BASF grower survey* showed several interesting results regarding grower perceptions of fungicides, including:

• 65 percent of growers surveyed used a fungicide in 2011

• Of the growers who used a fungicide in 2011, 87 percent said they used a fungicide preventatively, regardless of disease pressure

• 54 percent used a fungicide primarily to increase yield potential

o 46 percent listed disease control or Plant Health benefits as a primary reason for a fungicide, of which 18 percent said disease control was their main basis for fungicide application

• 65 percent of growers surveyed agreed they can see a visual difference in their fields after applying a fungicide

• Larger growers (those with more than 1,000 acres) were more likely to use a fungicide product in 2011, compared to smaller growers (those with 999 or fewer acres)

o However, smaller operations were more likely to use a fungicide product on a larger percentage of their acres

- 81 percent of growers with less than 500 acres sprayed a fungicide on all of their acres, compared to 24 percent of growers with 1,000 to 3,000 acres, and 27 percent of growers with more than 3,000 acres