Renewable Farming

Save almost $10 an acre, get more yield with nutrition vs. fungicides

Our Spraytec rep, Drew Ewing, sent us an array of photos showing ears pulled yesterday from test plots at a Clarion, IA research farm field day. The point — emphasized by Dr. Don Huber — you can counter fungal disease pressure with excellent mineral nutrition more effectively than you can with toxic fungicides. And spend less doing it. And push both quality and yield a notch higher.

August 13, 2021 About 20 farmers and consultants attended yesterday’s test-plot day near Clarion. Spraytec had set up extensive corn trial strips with random-replicated treatments evaluating their mineral fertility products. (Disclosure: Renewable Farming markets these.)

For years we’ve advocated full-season foliar nutrition, and these ears (pulled randomly by separate farmers walking through the test strips) offer credible clues to the benefits. Of course Spraytec will also measure final yields from all plots. Each treatment had five replications in 50-foot test strips.

Overall, corn at this site was robust, having received just-in-time June-July rains during an otherwise hot, dry summer. Moisture stress explains the consistent tipping back of kernels at ear-ends.

This is one of the first trials we’ve seen directly comparing effectiveness of a fungicide side-by-side with nutritional foliars. Most applications were made at V12, just before tasseling, except where noted on the photos below.

The photo shows that ears treated nutritionally are generally longer and larger than either the untreated check or the fungicide treatment. Drew Ewing tells us, “Fungicide firms make the claim that their products help lower temperatures around the corn canopy as a reason to use them even when disease pressure is not a problem.”

However, years ago, AgriEnergy Resources often showed that well-nourished corn maintained temps cooler than the air surrounding fields during ear filling. Reason: healthy leaf evaporation, fed by deep rooting and a live rhizosphere to pull up moisture. 

Drew notes that the fungicide used here, Trivapro, retails for $17 per acre. Spraytec products noted here retail for about $7.68 per acre. You can study the specifications and ingredients on these Spraytec products at this link.

Editorial commentary: We’re always a little bemused that so many trace-element blends and foliar biologicals sell for right around $8 per acre. That number reflects a fairly safe risk/reward ratio for corn, especially if USDA is accurate about this year’s corn yield forecast.

More than a decade of research on our own test strips indicates that adding WakeUP Summer with foliar trace elements bumps up yield this way:  If the foliar nutrient adds 5 bu. per acre on corn, tank-mixing 5 ounces of WakeUP per acre at $3.50 per acre adds another 3 to 4 bu. yield response. If cash corn is $5.30 this fall, that’s a $6 potential return for WakeUP per $1 cost. 


Random ears from Spraytec test plots at Clarion, IA on August 12


The bottom image shows ears treated with Spraytec Impulse at the Clarion plots.

The first ear on the left is an untreated check, chosen randomly. The next four ears were foliar-sprayed at V6, and the next four ears were foliar-sprayed at V12. When final yields are taken from these replicated plots, they’ll offer evidence of whether spray timing makes a significant difference — growth stage V6 or V12, just before tasseling. Another variation between those two spray timings: A “cube” of Fulltec is packaged to treat 100 acres. But ears 4 and 7 came from plots where the applied rate was as if the entire 100-acre rate had been applied on 80 acres. In effect, each of these plots received a 20% higher application rate of Fulltec Impulse.

If these ears reflect what will  happen when final yields are taken, it’ll again signal that good nutrition can do an excellent job, versus fungicide, for strengthening corn’s health and yield potential. 


Corn treated with Spraytec Impuse vs. fungicide and controls at V6 or V12