Some experts think the best way to take a positive step on cutting your corn crop budget for 2016 is to pick the most resistant hybrids to foliar leaf diseases that you can find. That should eliminate the need for a foliar fungicide application next season.
Dave Nanda would be in that camp. He is a crops consultant for Seed Consultants, Inc., based in Indianapolis. He believes in only using GMO hybrids if you have a pest they can protect against, and in picking resistant hybrids for diseases such as gray leaf spot and northern corn leaf blight so you minimize the chances of needing to apply a fungicide next season.
However, some counter that the most resistant hybrids aren't always the best yielders. Study the yield data for the hybrids you want to consider and decide if that is right or not.
Another way to tame fungicide costs next season might be to consider generic fungicides, which are usually priced cheaper. Some of the active ingredients of fungicides are now off patent, and some are being produced by other companies.
Kiersten Wise, a Purdue University Extension weed specialist, says she is evaluating some generics in her work this year, including one that is a mixture of the two major types of fungicide chemistries for row crops. She will report her findings when they are analyzed, likely in December.
Recently she showed farmers a chart that shows how many bushels more per acre they need to harvest to break even and begin profiting from a fungicide application. The two major variables in the chart are cost of the application of the fungicide, including the fungicide itself, and the price of corn per bushel.
As the price of corn goes up, fewer bushels are needed to break even. As the cost of the fungicide application goes up, more bushels are required to break even.
At $3 corn and $24 per acre fungicide costs, you need 8 bushels per acre more to pay for the fungicide trip. If corn was $4 per bushel, you would only need 6 bushels. If corn is $3.50 and the fungicide is $32 per acre, on the high side, you would need 9.1 bushels per acre more yield just to cover the fungicide application.