June 20, 2024

Finding benefits of fungicides through on-farm trials

OGDEN, Iowa — Strip trials have become standard operating procedure for the Heineman family to test products and practices on their farm.

Brett Heineman, along with his father, Craig, and uncle, Paul, operate the family’s central Iowa farm where they grow corn and soybeans.

In a recent interview with Heineman facilitated by BASF, the fifth-generation farmer, spoke of the benefits of using fungicides based on on-farm trials.

What are your experiences with fungicides?

Heineman: We like to test stuff in our operation. We’ll do strip trials. We do 90-foot strips of whatever we’re trying, then we’ll have a 90-foot control strip and we’ll alternate that through the field. We usually do 40 to 80 acres of strip trials, depending on what we’re doing, to get a good replication of what we’re trialing.

We have a plan in place where we will test things for three years. If they show profitability for three years then we implement them into our program. That’s what happened with fungicide.

What kind of yield bump have you seen on average by using a fungicide?

Heineman: We’ve probably ranged from 5 to 12 bushels, depending on the year.

When do you decide to pull the trigger on a fungicide application?

Heineman: We want to spray it by V10, but if we see pressure is moving in earlier, we’ll spray earlier. It’s more important to get it on before you have the problem then put it on after you have the problem.

What kind of disease pressure have you seen in your area?

Heineman: Right now, northern corn leaf blight is kind of our biggest deal, but tar spot has been creeping in. Tar spot showed up late everywhere last year.

So, this year we’ll probably be spraying two passes of fungicide to try to help control that because I know that stuff can be really nasty.

What have you seen as the overall benefits of a fungicide application?

Heineman: Standability is one thing, but really my big goal is plant health. In a perfect world, what I’m aiming for is to have a green plant from top to bottom and harvesting 18% corn. That gives us the biggest bang for our buck and gives us the biggest yield.

We cover a decent amount of acres and so standability is also a nice thing about having a fungicide.

Some of our biggest successes with fungicides from what we see is getting it out before there’s any disease pressure, and that’s also where we get our biggest bang for our buck.

What is your go-to fungicide product?

Heineman: It’s whatever makes sense because some years one is cheaper than another. It just all depends.

How is your growing season going so far?

Heineman: We planted our soybeans first and they’re all up into their first trifoliate and look really good. We planted some corn into cooler conditions than I would like, so it’s going to hurt our even emergence some, but that’s just kind of the nature of the beast.

Right now (on May 19) I’m planting seed corn. All of our commercial corn and soybeans are planted.

Tom Doran

Tom C. Doran

Field Editor