4 Factors to Consider for Late Season Applications

Laura Holoubek

Jul 24, 2023

As we get later into the growing season, farmers need to make important decisions about late season applications. While many farmers are struggling with drought and other stresses this year, some farmers are still considering how to preserve and enhance crop yields. 

If you’re considering a late season application, you’ll want to account for the following factors when making your decision:

  1. Economic analysis

  2. Integrated Pest Management thresholds

  3. Equipment

  4. Plant health benefits

4 Factors to Consider for Late Season Applications

1. Economic Analysis

The first step in making a decision around late season applications is to consider the ROI potential for your operation; does it pay to spray? 

While early season weed control is necessary to prevent crop competition, late season applications specifically target pests that directly affect crop health and yield. Plan to treat acres when pest pressure exceeds the economic threshold, which is the level at which pest density causes a financial impact equal to the cost of treatment. 

The following graphic, created by the University of Illinois, showcases economic thresholds for common agronomic pests.1

Weighing the cost of fungicides, insecticides and herbicides will help determine the potential yield benefits. It’s also worth considering your planned application method, as aerial applications may be more costly than ground applications.

2. Integrated Pest Management Thresholds

The next factor to consider is late season pest management. By developing your own strategic Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan, you can proactively monitor these pests and their subsequent crop impact, hopefully preventing serious crop damage. 

The goal of an IPM is not pest eradication, but rather pest level reduction below the level where crop harm will occur. Setting IPM action thresholds, which are based on the number of pests or the level of damage observed within a field, can help you assess when to implement measures such as biological control tactics or insecticide applications in the event these pest populations or related damage exceed a certain predetermined level. Late season IPM thresholds are typically higher than early season thresholds because the crop is more mature and can tolerate more damage. However, it is important to consider the potential for pest damage to reduce yield or quality, as well as the cost of control measures.

3. Equipment

Next, decide on your application method. Making the choice between a ground or air application often depends on your available equipment. 

Ground Applications

Ground rigs are commonly used on soybeans because they can be driven across the field without causing extensive damage to the crop. While ground applications are often much more time-consuming, they are generally less expensive than air applications. This approach can also be more precise, especially when using GPS technology, but can be limited by terrain and weather conditions.

Air Applications

Many farmers opt to spray corn fields with airplanes due to the size of the field and the fact that many sprayers don’t have ground clearance for tasseling corn. Air application is quicker compared to ground application methods, covering more acres in a timely manner. However, while an air application can cover more ground it's not as precise as a direct ground application. 

4. Plant Health Benefits

Late season applications can also offer plant health benefits, particularly when using fungicides paired with nutritional biostimulants. Late season health can make a big difference to your bottom line. 

To address late season yield-limiting deficiencies, consider a biostimulant like Nourish Vitals™. It contains beneficial amino acids in peptide form that allows for more efficient nutrient delivery throughout the plant, delivering an optimal balance of NPK and micronutrients in a single, cost- effective product.

Nourish Vitals™ can be applied via air application and is approved for use on corn, soybeans, cereal grains, oilseeds and many specialty crops. Additionally, the biostimulant can help improve nutrient uptake and utilization, which can lead to better yields and quality. 

Crop Nutrition and Crop Protection Products from FBN Direct®

Farmers have several factors to consider when deciding whether to make a late season application. Conducting economic analysis to determine the financial benefit of an application, understanding IPM thresholds to assess the need for a proactive application step, evaluating available equipment to decide on an application method and exploring potential plant health benefits are crucial steps in making an informed application decision.

If you decide to take action with a late season application to preserve plant health and enhance crop yields, FBN® offers a diverse portfolio of crop protection and crop nutrition products like Nourish Vitals™ . Get everything you need from FBN Direct and enjoy direct-to-farm delivery with the ease of online ordering. 


  1. ​​https://www.extension.purdue.edu/ipm/ipm1_5.html

  2. https://farmdocdaily.illinois.edu/2018/10/integrated-pest-management-what-are-economic-thresholds-and-how-are-they-developed.html

Additional Resources

  1. North Dakota Field Crop Insect Management Guide

  2. Purdue University, Field Crop Insects Control Recommendations

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Laura Holoubek

Jul 24, 2023