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Do Fungicides Increase Yield and Grain Quality of Wheat Enough to Cover the Cost of Treatment?

Applied Research

Jenny Carleo
Area Specialized Agent
NC Cooperative Extension


The milling and baking market for soft red winter wheat in North Carolina provides an opportunity for growers to earn a higher income from their crop than if it were sold for animal feed. Fungicides are a significant input cost intended to protect yield and grain quality. Some growers perceive an increase in wheat yield and quality when fungicides are applied even in the absence of fungal disease. To test this hypothesis, we are evaluating if fungicide in the absence of disease pays for itself by ensuring that wheat is of high enough quality to sell at a premium to the milling and baking market for flour. This project will help update our science-based disease management recommendations, which currently state that fungicide applications are not cost-effective in the absence of disease. The study investigates different fungicide application timings and modes of action to identify which fungicide approaches are most cost-effective for the grower. Small plots (10’ x 10’) were planted at the NCDA&CS Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury, NC, in each of two years. No significant fungal diseases appeared in the test in either year. In both years, there was no impact of fungicide on yield (P ≥ 0.19), protein (P ≥ 0.44) or falling number (P ≥ 0.60). No DON (vomitoxin) was found in any of the samples. The Miravis Ace fungicide significantly increased test weight when applied at flowering or when applied twice, although the increase was less than 0.5 lb/bu (P ≤ 0.05). The cost of the labeled rate of Miravis Ace applied twice in the 2021-2022 growing season was $40.04/Acre. The local price of wheat on the day of harvest was $9.72. When return on investment (ROI) was calculated, fungicides did not increase yield or quality enough to cover the cost of the products in these years with no disease pressure. Data from another growing season and an environment with fungal disease are needed to gain a full picture of ROI to the grower.

Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Jenny Carleo, Christina Cowger
  1. Carleo, J. Area Specialized Agent, NC State Extension, North Carolina, 28687
  2. Cowger, C. Small Grains Pathologist, USDA-ARS and NC State University, North Carolina, 27695