Insights from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

This might ring a familiar note, friends, but read on!  As our experience and knowledge grow, so do our options, so even common annual topics—like fungicide application in this case—evolve and change from year to year.

It is that time.  Tasseling is just a few weeks away and fungicide decisions are upon us.  My take on this last year was that you had three options: you could go all in, not in at all, or wait and see how your situation developed.  The core decision here remains, in the wise words of Yoda, to “do or do not,” but don’t be deceived: the more we know, the more complex the decision to “do or do not” becomes, and as our technology becomes ever more refined, the decision to “do” takes on a new life.

Simply put, with new data and metrics in play this season, you have more power to make the right decision.  And if you would decide to do, those same pieces of information can help you refine your decision to allow for the biggest return on investment possible.

Any good decision about fungicide starts with an honest appraisal of your fields for their yield (read also: profit) potential.  Base your appraisal on both their historical performance as well as their NESP number and divide them into three categories accordingly: good yield/profit potential, okay, and poor.

With your fields categorized as such, revisit your list and note the disease history of each field to help you understand the risk associated with each as well.

Then seek out data.  Thanks to trials in Winfield/United Answer Plots, we have some good insights into how many hybrids respond to fungicide and have measured how their yield is thus affected.  When these insights are delivered to your FSA through Winfield/United’s R7 Tool, they can provide you with your hybrids Response to Fungicide Score, which is a function of a hybrid’s native health characteristics coupled with the yield increase from the stress reduction benefit that particular hybrid experiences after a fungicide application.

With these pieces of information in hand, you’re armed to make the most informed decision possible, one based both in cutting edge science and the particulars of your fields.

How this looks in the real world is something like this:

Let’s say that you have a field with historically really high yield potential and a great NESP.  It’s disease-free.  The hybrid you have planted there though has a low Response to Fungicide Number…  This field probably doesn’t need a fungicide application.  The science suggests a small ROI here.

Then there’s this other field.  You’ve categorized it in that middle group: historically it’s an okay producer and it seems to be following that same path this year with a middling NESP.  It’s disease-free as well.  The hybrid you have planted there is a strong responder to fungicide…  This field is a good candidate for an application.  The possibility of a pleasing ROI definitely exists.

You know already that fungicide is helpful to your yield and profit in the presence of diseases such as Southern Rust and Northern Corn Leaf Blight.  (So those fields you’ve marked with disease are generally front-of-the-line candidates for an application.)  The Response to Fungicide Number is the number that can guide your decision about applying in the absence of disease.

So see your FSA, friends.  Even if your hybrid isn’t from CVA, we likely have enough data to provide some helpful guidance on its response characteristics to help determine if there is benefit of making an application without the duress of disease making the decision for you.