Tracy Pell

Tracy Pell leads marketing for FBN Direct and F2F Genetics. She grew up in an area surrounded by small farms and has endless respect for the complex job that farmers have--part business people, part chemists, part equipment and machine repair people, and so much more. She's excited to make that job just a little easier by putting Farmers First at FBN.

Aug. 15, 2019

by Tracy Pell

Add products to your cart at the click of a button, and build your order quickly. Calculating the total order and selecting shipping or warehouse pickup can also be completed right in the online checkout. We’ve designed our online inputs-shopping experience to make buying seed and chemicals online more streamlined and efficient than ever. Search an unbiased selection of thousands of products, including herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, adjuvants and fertilizers. On individual product pages, you can view in-depth details about each product, from labels to price transparency metrics. Apples-to-apples comparisons between products with the same active ingredient are easy with a comparison feature, which takes all the work out of comparing products with different concentrations of active ingredients by performing the calculations for you.

Apr. 18, 2019

by Tracy Pell

It’s going to happen – your healthy canola crop is bound to attract some less-than-savory critters, such as bertha armyworms, lygus bugs and diamondback moth larvae. Canola will suffer pest outbreaks - but with a little work on the front end, you can limit the economic cost of insects on the crop. Scouting your fields regularly helps you to identify and manage those hungry bugs. Here are a few tips when scouting your canola: 1. Find the right scouting method for each insect. Some thresholds are based on sweep net counts, while others are monitored by larvae found after shaking plants. 2. Choose the best time of day to scout.  Some bugs are early risers and some are more active in the middle of the day. Also consider that insects may be lower down in the canopy on hot afternoons or in heavy winds. 3. Be proactive. Don’t just wait until you see insect damage. Know when to expect bugs and be ready to head them off. And then keep checking.  4. Take action if economic threshold numbers are met .  For example: Bertha armyworm – Research shows that per square metre, each bertha armyworm larvae can cause a 0.058 bushel per acre loss. Once numbers reach the economic threshold, which varies with the price of insecticide and the price of canola, spray as soon as they start feeding on pods. Lygus - One lygus can cause a 0.1235 bushel per acre loss at the late flowering to early pod stages and 0.0882 bushel per acre loss at the late pod stage. While thresholds vary based on prices, researchers advise against insecticide applications when lygus numbers are below 50/10 sweeps. Cutworms : Thresholds for cutworms in canola sit around 25-30 percent. Below 25%, canola plants may be able to compensate for some of the damaged or destroyed plants. If bare spots develop, spray around these patches to limit their size. Diamondback moth larvae : Thresholds are 100-150 larvae per square metre in immature to flowering plants, or 200 to 300 larvae per square metre in plants with flowers and pods. Cabbage seedpod weevil : The economic threshold is 25 to 40 weevils in 10 sweeps. The higher the price of canola, the lower the threshold. Flea beetle : The point at which foliar insecticide is recommended is 25 percent – canola can handle up to 50 percent defoliation, but aggressive flea beetles can move from 25 percent to 50 percent in as little as a day. 5. When spraying is necessary, choose a product with a pre-harvest interval that’s right for you.  For example, Coragen™ has a 1-day interval from spray to swath, whereas Lorsban™ 4E has a 21-day interval, and RIPCORD® has a 30-interval. Whatever product you use, always read and follow label instructions. 

Mar. 27, 2019

by Tracy Pell

When you make an order through FBN Direct , your order history will now be easily accessible through your FBN account. Simply go into your account to see the full details of all of your past orders, including items ordered, payment, and total order amount with a breakdown of taxes and shipping costs. How to Access Your Order History Log into your FBN account and click on the FBN Direct tab at the top of the page. Then, at the top right of the FBN Direct homepage, click on the box that says "Orders." Once you've navigated into the Order History page, you'll see all of the orders you've made with FBN Direct. What's Included in Your Order History You can find the date the order was placed, the full payment amount, payment method, and shipping address. Click on the "Show Details" link at the bottom of each order to see the individual products, including quantity and price, in that order.

Jan. 28, 2019

by Tracy Pell

Many farmers in the Corn Belt a pply a starter fertilizer—they   know that  early corn often gets planted into cool, wet soils. While these conditions can compromise germination and stand establishment, they also set the stage for starters to do their best work. Benefits of starter fertilizer Starter fertilizers help maximize crop yield potential, and the benefits will be easy to spot—a more uniform plant stand, early seedling vigor, reduced weed competition and possible yield increases. While no one can guarantee a yield increase, starter is an excellent step in achieving your yield goals year after year. Here’s how starter fertilizer works for plants: Cool soil temperatures are known to slow down root growth. Starter fertilizers aid in supplying nutrients to seedling plants, even though fertile soils exist outside the young plant’s root zone. Low soil temperatures also affect the rate of nitrogen that is released from the organic matter by slowing down microbial activity. Starter fertilizer can lessen the characteristics of compaction by contributing additional vigor to seedling root growth that may allow root penetration through the compaction zones. Certain soil types and lower levels of soil fertility can benefit from starter fertilizers. These would include, but are not limited to, sandy soils with irrigation, sandy soils with low organic matter, high pH soils, soils with low fertility levels, even good heavy soils that have nutrient tie-up potential. With the popularity of no-till, strip-till or simply reduced tillage, starter fertilizer may have its biggest impact. This may be due to the increased water retention and crop residues remaining on the soil surface creating cooler soil temperatures where these farming practices are implemented. Placement matters How the starter fertilizer gets to the young plants is important. In-furrow: In-furrow fertilizer application means to place the fertilizer in the seed furrow directly on and with the seed at planting. But this comes with some risk. Most commonly used fertilizer contains salt. Too much salt in furrow can cause reduced germination and reduced root growth. This can cause poor plant populations and stunted growth in plants. Two-by-Two Band: Another popular placement is called a 2-by-2 band, which places the fertilizer 2 inches to the side and 2 inches deeper than the seed placement at planting. This placement will alleviate the salt risk factor mentioned above. However, there can be substantial cost involved to set up a planter for 2 by 2 placement and slower planter speeds are required as well. The set-up cost can be less for in-furrow applications, because many planters are already mounted with the necessary equipment for this application. How much starter fertilizer does it take?  Rates used for in-furrow fertilizer depend on the soil type, carbon exchange capacity (CEC), and pH of the soil to be planted. In many cases, only nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are applied as starter fertilizer. The most common liquid starter fertilizer used is 10-34-0. Some of the most significant benefits come from the added P. Often, a newly formed plant is unable to take advantage of P in the soil under cool, wet conditions, due to the plants slowed root growth. A starter with P places the essential nutrient directly by the root, making it readily accessible. A soil test may indicate the need for other nutrients, which can normally be added to the mix and applied as starter. Remember that nutrients applied as starter should be deducted from total fertilizer required from the soil test recommendation . ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal and state/provincial law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its label. The distribution, sale and use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this page or which is provided by us in any form. It is your responsibility to confirm prior to purchase and use that a product is labeled for your specific purposes, including, but not limited to, your target crop or pest and its compatibility with other products in a tank mix. 

Dec. 19, 2018

by Tracy Pell

We often tout how complex the field is for row crop production—the rapid pace of seed development, the delicate balance of a perfect fertilizer package, the hi-tech computer system in the newest planter set up. And it’s true.  Every season brings brand new opportunities to adopt the latest technologies and practices, each one developing and coming to market faster than the one before. But a closer look at the current herbicide chemistries and product line up might make you question how true a statement that is. On first glance, it seems all the “newest” herbicides are just combinations of existing herbicides, new formulations on old chemistry or perhaps the same herbicides at different concentrations . These new products may have a shiny new label, or be slightly more convenient to use, but to call them truly new? That could be a stretch. One of the most significant characteristics of any herbicide is its Mode of Action . MOA explains how the herbicide interacts with the plant, from the moment the product enters the plant to the time the targeted plant dies. And it’s been a while since we’ve seen a truly new MOA. Developing new herbicides is an expensive and lengthy process. Many new chemical compounds are tested and screened every year by chemical companies (and the number of competitors on that list decreases after each merger and acquisition). Once a compound shows some favorable activity, it is tested extensively to determine its positive, and negative, impacts. It can take 6 to 12 years from the development or discovery of the formulation (active ingredients combined with inactive ingredients)  to advance it to market as a new product. Government regulations also play a role in the timeline. This process may seem excessive; however, thorough testing and careful labeling can help avoid serious problems with these products, particularly with crop and applicator/handler safety. So, what would it take to see a new MOA? A new chemistry would need to: be economical have low handling and application volume help control resistant weed species be environmentally safe be useful multiple crops or rotations, and have no extensive carry over issues present no or low health risk to handlers/ applicators But new chemical herbicides aren’t necessarily the answer. There’s always new research being done in the area of weed control, from university extension to private companies. While some companies are working on developing new chemically based herbicides, others are more focused on opportunities for biological control of weeds. The secret to successful weed control isn’t new products alone—it’s also better practices: It’s following label recommendations closely: Using the right rates in the right fields to kill the right weeds. Most weed resistance is attributed to poor application (i.e. using too much or too little of a product in the same field for too long of a time period.) It’s incorporating multiple MOAs: Using multiple modes of action to get the most comprehensive control, and just as importantly, to prevent resistance to any particular mode of action. It’s utilizing more conventional tools when necessary: Tillage can assist with weed control when necessary. No weeds are resistant to proper tillage. It's an overall, integrated approach to herbicide resistance management that takes crop rotation, tillage system, cover crops, fertility and chemistry into account.  Always read and follow label use instructions. 

Dec. 17, 2018

by Tracy Pell

When you apply for any kind of financing or loan, understanding the interest rate you’re being offered is key to knowing how much you’re going to really pay over time. When financing your operation’s inputs, the rate and loan terms will help you compare offers between suppliers and determine overall costs. Fixed vs. Variable Interest Rates There are generally two types of interest rates: variable and fixed. The difference between these two types of interest rates is whether or not they can change over the life of the loan. For a variable rate, you may have noticed financing offers like “PRIME Interest Rate”, or “Prime + 1%”. That rate is based on a benchmark rate called the PRIME rate. Unlike variable rates, fixed rates won’t change over time--whatever is on offer is set in stone for the life of the loan. You might see something on your credit card like “12% APR”, or your mortgage for “4.0%.” This year, interest rates on Farmers Business Network  extended terms will be fixed, meaning that they won’t fluctuate with the markets. You’ll know upfront exactly what your rate will be and what rates will be available throughout the entire year. We’re offering fixed rates to help you make better, more predictable plans for your business. And in today’s market, predictability is a great thing to have. How Interest Rates Are Determined Interest rates are heavily influenced by decisions made by the U.S. Federal Reserve. When determining Farmers Business Network  extended terms rates, we look closely at financial markets changes to the interest rate over the next year. After years of record low interest rates, the Federal Reserve has increased rates twice in 2018, with more increases predicted through the end of the year. The Fed has stated that it intends to raise rates three more times in 2019, although none of these rate hikes are set in stone yet. When we set rates for our extended terms, we look at what interest rates are today as well as the possibilities for them to increase and decrease over the coming year. There are benefits and drawbacks to both variable and fixed interest rates, so make sure you consider all options before making your decision Loan Terms and How Much You’ll Really Pay When looking at interest rates, you should consider how much you’ll really pay based on the amount of time until you pay back the full amount. Interest rates are often presented as annual rates, which means that the number you see is how much interest you would pay if you had 12 full months until paid in full. However, when you are financing inputs, you may be paying the full amount back in less or more than one year. For example, if you buy qualified inputs using Farmers Business Network  Extended Terms on April 1 2019, your annual interest rate will be 7.5%. But in actuality, you will only pay around 5.0% if paid on time by December 1 2019, which is 8 months at the annualized rate of 7.5% 0% Is Easy to Understand Of course, the easiest interest rate to understand is 0%, and that’s what you’ll get if you buy your inputs using Farmers Business Network  extended terms by December 20, 2018. You won’t have to pay until December of 2019, and your rate for that entire period will be 0%. Talk about simple! FBN strives to be as transparent as possible so you can make the best decisions for your operation - and that’s what being part of our network is all about. Do you have questions or interested about our program for next year? Feel free to reach out to out to your rep directly or email

Article Operational Management

How to Save With Value Pick Products

Nov. 28, 2018

by Tracy Pell

The FBN℠  product selection is designed to give our members as much choice and the highest savings on inputs possible. We’ve always believed that it is important to offer generic alternatives with the same active ingredients as well-known brand name chemicals. This year, with your profits at the top of our mind, we’ve added another option to the mix: Value Pick selections. What is a Value Pick? With a Value Pick product, you choose your desired active ingredient and concentration while giving us the flexibility to select the exact product to send to you. When you buy a Value Pick product, you lock in the best value we have to offer for that active ingredient and concentration. Value Picks all meet the same high quality standards as the rest of our product selection. Choosing a Value Pick product simply lets us fulfill your order with the product we can get the best deal on from our suppliers. As with all of the products we sell, we guarantee that the product you receive will be formulated as labeled. The product you receive may be a generic product. A generic product is manufactured and sold by a company other than the original manufacturer but contains the same active ingredient(s). Generic products are usually “off-patent,” meaning that the patent for the original brand name has expired and other companies are free to make a competitor product. To learn more about generics, read our article “Understanding Branded vs. Generic Ag Chemicals.” Flexibility = Savings Although we introduced Value Picks to our product selection for the first time a few months ago, we’re not the first to equate flexibility with savings. You’ll see this concept often in the travel industry. Popular hotel booking sites, for example, often offer deals that let the website choose the exact hotel where a traveler stays, saving the traveler money. The traveler can enter dates and location and then see options based on star rating, amenities, and price without knowing exactly which hotel they’re choosing at the time that they book. Many flight booking sites have similar options for airlines. Value Picks work in much the same way. You let us know what active ingredient and concentration you’re looking for, and we give you the best deal we can find without specifying the exact product at the time you buy. Comparing Value Picks and Branded Products In the FBN online store, we make it easy to compare Value Picks with their alternatives. You’ll see an alternative product listed next to a Value Pick so that you get a quick apples-to-apples price comparison, with concentration of active ingredients already taken into account. Our goal is always to make it easy for you to make the choice that’s right for you. FBN Direct is offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and is available only in states where FBN Inputs, LLC is licensed.  FBN Direct is offered in the United States by FBN Inputs, LLC and in Canada by Farmer's Business Network Canada, Inc. and is available only in jurisdictions where each is respectively licensed.  ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS. It is a violation of federal and state/provincial law to use any pesticide product other than in accordance with its label. The distribution, sale and use of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of federal and/or state law and is strictly prohibited. We do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided on this page or which is provided by us in any form. It is your responsibility to confirm prior to purchase and use that a product is labeled for your specific purposes, including, but not limited to, your target crop or pest and its compatibility with other products in a tank mix.

Nov. 26, 2018

by Tracy Pell

Every field needs the right crop plan to maximize efficiency and profitability, and there are many parts and pieces that make up a complete and successful crop plan.  The weed control portion of your crop plan should include several simple and straightforward steps to finalize an acceptable weed control strategy. 1. Positively ID weed species within each field. Focus on the weeds that created problems for you this year, and determine the crop to be grown next year. Many herbicides can be used with several different crops, but there are some herbicides that are crop specific. 2. Crop safety matters. Understanding variety characteristics and their herbicide interactions will help you to determine the best herbicide choice . Don’t skip over crop safety in the herbicide selection process. 3. What were last year’s weed populations? You should estimate the seed bank to be produced next year. For example just one Palmer Amaranth plant can produce 500,000 seeds. If you were to get 99.9 percent control, there would still be 500 Palmer Amaranth plants per acre remaining. 4. Are they annual, biennial, or perennial weeds? Which weeds were a factor in your final yields last year? Knowing the weed’s life cycle helps you in the timing of control to be applied and in herbicide selection. 5. Are your weeds resistant to certain modes of action? For example, if the weed you are trying to control is resistant to acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibiting herbicides, use another mode of action to get acceptable control. It’s possible that ALS herbicides may still be the best choice to give you good control of the other weed species found in the same field, so you might think about whether tank mixing herbicides could work for you to get more weed control. Be sure to check the compatibility of the herbicides to be tank mixed. 6. Timing your application for the best control of each weed species. Winter annual weeds should be treated in the fall unless tillage to remove them is planned for early spring. Oftentimes, less expensive growth regulators can be applied for broadleaf control in the fall with reduced risk of off target damage. Keep in mind that application timing can also affect the price of the herbicide program, depending on when you plan to buy your chosen chem. 7. What herbicide rates did you use this year? Did you receive a level of weed control that you were satisfied with this year? If your herbicide plan includes more of the same herbicides you used this year, purchasing them now at lower prices could save dollars and eliminate the possibility of searching for them next spring. 8. Overlap residual herbicides for troublesome weeds with extended germination. Consider making an application of overlapping residual herbicides for those troublesome weeds that have extended germination periods. This can be a reliable way to achieve good control on difficult, prolific weed species — the goal is to keep the field weed-free until crop canopy. 9. Consider alternative products and methods upfront. Some alternative products may help to control your weeds more efficiently. Combining mode of action herbicides can also help to improve your weed control results — this is simply good weed management. Ask yourself if tillage could be implemented to improve weed control. 10. Getting “control” versus “suppression.” Always read the herbicide label to be sure it says “control” of the weed. Select a herbicide that states it can help to control the specific weeds you have present. When the label claims “suppression” of the weed you must expect some weed escapes that may be difficult to deal with. Selecting the least expensive herbicide may not be the most cost effective in the long run. 11. Full rates help to reduce weed escapes. By applying reduced rates of herbicide, you may be contributing to building up weed resistance to that herbicide. You should expect reduced weed control if you apply a reduced rate of herbicide. This can cause you to need an additional weed treatment application (which would increase your herbicide cost) and give you less effective weed control than you’re looking for. 12. Consider any chemical carry over issues. Consider any chemical carry over issues that might be possible from past herbicides you have applied, as well as from the herbicides you’ve selected for next year. Be sure you know the Pre Harvest Interval (PHI) for each of the products you’ve chosen, and make certain that these products fit into your future cropping plan. 13. Always apply based on the label use for each product. Always read and follow the label use directions before using any ag chemical. The bottom line is that the label is the law. By following these steps, and with the help of your agronomic team, your herbicide plan can help you to achieve maximum weed control, even from the most difficult weeds.

Nov. 23, 2018

by Tracy Pell

The biostimulant category in the United States remains loosely defined--at least legally. Biostimulants do not fall under the EPA regulatory authority designated by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. However, it’s important to understand the current landscape for this emerging product class, as well as for other foliar applied crop nutrition products like foliar feeds and Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs). Understanding these different groups will help you determine the best economic returns for your farm. What is a Biostimulant? Biostimulants have been defined internationally. Europe, which has the largest biostimulant market, has created the following definition via the European Biostimulants Industry Council : “ Biostimulants contain[ing] substance(s) and/or micro-organisms whose function when applied to plants or the rhizosphere is to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality.” In the United States, where there is no legal definition, most states require products that fall under the biostimulant category based on academic definitions to be registered as fertilizers.  Foliar Feeds, PGRs and Biostimulants: What’s the Difference? Foliar applied nutritionals and plant health products fall into one of three main categories: Foliar Fertilizers - Foliar fertilizer directly provides macronutrients and micronutrients to a plant through the application of liquid fertilizer onto the leaves of crops. Plants are able to absorb essential elements through their leaves. Foliar fertilizers may be complexed and/or chelated to prevent element tie-up and improve nutrient availability. Plant Growth Regulators (PGRs) - PGRs are regulated by the EPA and defined as "any substance or mixture of substances intended, through physiological action, to accelerate or retard the rate of growth or maturation, or otherwise alter the behavior of plants or their produce. PGRs contain plant hormones such as gibberellic acid and cytokinin. Additionally, plant regulators are characterized by their low rates of application; high application rates of the same compounds often are considered herbicidal.” There are five general classes of PGRs: auxins, cytokinins, gibberellins, abscisic acid, and ethylene. Each type of growth regulator has a different effect on plants. According to the EPA’s Label Review Manual , whether a product is considered to be a plant growth regulator or not depends on whether the plant response or mode of action being claimed would go beyond what would be expected from simple nutrition. The composition of the product may aid in making the determination. Biostimulants - Biostimulants do not contain plant hormones--unlike PGRs--and are not considered foliar fertilizers, although some may contain small amounts of nitrogen. Instead, they act as signaling agents to help plants increase the production of their own hormones. They are not to be confused with biopesticides, which are made from natural materials and target specific pests, or biofertilizers, which are microbials that are used to enhance nutrient uptake from soil. Biostimulants also provide a variety of plant health attributes, including antioxidant properties, increased nitrogen efficiency, improved production of amino acids, and greater resistance to abiotic stress. 1 The use of a biostimulant can help crops recover from external stresses, including periods of cold, heat or drought stress. 2 Biostimulants represent an interesting frontier in economically beneficial crop production techniques. At some point, simply applying more fertilizer reaches a point of diminishing return. The right biostimulant can improve crop performance past the point at which applying more fertilizer is no longer practical. It is possible for a farmer to utilize both PGR’s and biostimulants in intensively managed crops. They have different functions and purposes, and contain different substances. Some crop nutrition and plant health products on the market today may in fact contain combinations of PGRs, biostimulants and/or foliar fertilizers. Biostimulant Categories Most biostimulants are foliar applied. However, new research shows the benefits of applying biostimulants in-furrow. Biostimulants fall into one of several categories: Protein Hydrolysates - amino acid based biostimulants obtained from animal or vegetable sources. The best ones are extracted from vegetable matter, usually soybeans, by enzymes. Organic Acids - usually humic or fulvic Seaweed extracts & botanicals - derived from kelp, algae or terrestrial plants Chitosan and other biopolymers - often obtained from crustacean shells Inorganics - minerals such as cobalt or silicon Beneficial organisms including fungi or bacteria Understanding this quickly-developing product class along with other classes of foliar fertilizer can help you make powerful purchasing decisions that affect your crops and your bottom line. 1 Van Oosten, , Pepe, De Pascale, Silletti and Maggio, "The Role of Biostimulants and Bioeffectors as Alleviators of Abiotic Stress in Crop Plants".  Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture. 2  Du Jardin, P. "The Science of Plant Biostimulants - a Biblographic Analysis."  Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture.

Nov. 19, 2018

by Tracy Pell

There are some best practices to follow if you want to make a practical ag chemical plan that works. We’ve outlined some tips and tricks for how to put together your plan and then efficiently select and buy the best chemicals for that plan—without breaking the bank. How to make an ag chem plan you can use There is no one-size-fits-all chemical plan. Depending on your crop rotation and tillage, as well soil types, pests and diseases, each farm has specific needs to address when developing a chemical plan. Finding the right pest management and weed control programs for your farm can seem like a daunting task, but thinking of them holistically can help you to develop a plan that will protect the yield potential you planted. What to Put Down: Selecting the Right Chemicals for Your Chem Plan Like all input decisions, deciding exactly what chemicals to purchase is a bit of a balancing act—figuring out what active ingredients your plan needs and when, and measuring that plan against the ease of ordering, delivery timing and cost (or in some cases, what it could cost you not to buy ). Here are a few things to consider as you start to create your chem plan: Know your cropping plan: Crops have diverse needs and tolerate weed, insect and and disease pressures differently. And plantback intervals vary between crops, sometimes even for the same product. That’s why it’s important to know what you’re planting—so you don’t restrict yourself with a herbicide that has a plantback interval that may be too long to work. Rotate your modes of action : It would be easy to just do what’s worked before, but we all know that eventually, any pest management program can lose its effectiveness. By making sure you’re utilizing multiple modes of action, you’ll be able to fight weeds in multiple growth stages and prevent any resistance issues that have become prevalent on farms across the country. Consider your tillage practices. Be sure to take tillage into account as you’re creating your chem plan. No-till, reduced till, minimum till, ridge-till and full tillage may each require a different herbicide program. For example, are you planning to till your soil before planting? If that’s the case, then you may not need to use a burndown herbicide because any weeds will be pushed under from rotating soil. Know your field history : Knowing what weeds, insects and diseases you dealt with in previous years can help you select the products you will need this year to combat any threats that carried over. Think long term: Take into consideration the weeds and insects you may see in corn versus soybeans, as well as any other crop you may consider planting—a cover crop or specialty crop, for example. Don’t let a pest linger that will be a danger to the next crop in your rotation, or in planting something new down the road. Generics versus Branded Chemicals Whether you’re looking to buy peanut butter, pain relievers, or crop protection chemicals, a branded product from a company you know over a low-cost, no-name generic feels like the safe choice. But what’s the real difference between generic and branded ag chemicals? If the branded product is three times more expensive, is it also three times more effective? What does a branded chemical really add to your bottom line? Wondering how to start comparing? Our guide to understanding branded vs. generic ag chemicals will answer your common questions, including: What is a generic ag chemical? Do generic products work as well as the equivalent branded products? Are generic products identical to branded products? A generic ag chemical is manufactured and sold by a company other than the original manufacturer, but contains the same Active Ingredient(s). Generic chemicals are typically “off-patent”, meaning their original patent has expired. Thousands of farmers use generic products on hundreds of crops. While generic products are not identical to their branded equivalents, they tend to be very similar in terms of performance. In fact, to receive an EPA registration, a generic product must have the same technical make-up as the branded version. Often generic and branded products are even manufactured by the same companies. Generic products are not always identical, so it’s critical that farmers read their product labels to understand the differences. Read More About Generic vs. Branded Ag Chemicals When to Put it Down: Timing Your Expected Applications Knowing your typical application types and when you traditionally have spray application windows is a significant part of developing a solid chem plan for your operation—when matters as much as where and how. By being aware of what, when, where and how works best for your farm, you can develop a plan that helps manage all of your pest control concerns while making the fewest number of passes necessary. The most common application windows are: Early pre-plant: These applications are made 15-30 days before planting and are generally non-selective herbicides that burn down early weeds ahead of the planter. This is a good time to apply herbicides with residual control . If you do not plan to till your soil, or are in a reduced-till or minimum-till system, then a burndown can help you gain control of weeds that wouldn’t be destroyed by tillage. Pre-plant: These applications are made in the window from 15 days prior to planting up until the planting date. This is an important window if you were unable to get into your fields for an early burndown and have a need to get moving with planting. Be careful with their herbicide choices here, as some herbicides have plantback restrictions that may prohibit them from being used so close to planting. This is also a good window for a soil-applied insecticide. Pre-emergence: These applications are made after planting, but before plants emerge from the soil. These chemicals help manage any weeds that have popped up since pre-plant burndown applications, and can provide residual control for certain weeds until the crop has had time to get established. Post-emergence: The post-emergence window includes anything that goes on once the crop is up and running. It is important to be aware of what the label specifies as the timing window, as this will help you get the most out of your in-season applications. A fungicide application is often usually made during this time (around VT-R1 growth stage in corn and R3-R4 growth stage in soybeans), and if insect pressure is a concern, many farmers will add an insecticide to their spray applications during this window. Harvest aids: This window is used to take down any late-season weeds that may make the crop more difficult to harvest. Selecting the Right Chemicals for Your Operation Premix versus Tank Mix Ag chemical products can come premixed or can be combined in a tank mix. Finding the right product mixes for your operation is important because mix type may help you to determine how much time and effort you want to spend prior to spraying. For premixes, the ratio of chemicals is prepared for the highest volume of use in a particular region. But for different climates and soil types, the optimal volume is not necessarily the highest volume, so be sure to read your labels and know the rates you want to apply. Also, when using a premix, the best application timing window for multiple products is usually determined by the combination ingredient ratios in the mix, which are developed by the manufacturer. However, this suggested timing may not always match up precisely with the ideal application timing for your farm, if you were to use the products included in the premix individually. So keep timing in mind when choosing a premix versus tank mix. Tank mixes provide more freedom to customize your mix. However, it becomes essential to have a thorough understanding of guidelines and labels for each product you plan to apply. Tank mixes require the ability to combine and handle the products properly, which is important to ensure uniform coverage and effective control. Improper mixing can be costly, particularly if the spray tank becomes clogged or damaged. How Much Chemical Do I Need? Figuring out how much chemical you need depends on the number of acres you plan to spray, what equipment you’ll be using and how many applications you’ll be making. All product labels will carry recommended application rates for each crop, timeframe and targeted pest. Need to know on chemical rates The rate of chemical to apply to your crop is always included on the product’s label. The recommended rate is often based on the amount of active ingredient in the product, its intended use and the expected reaction to expect from plants based on the size of the area to be sprayed. Rates can also be described in pounds or volume of product per acre, depending on whether it is a liquid, granular or powdered substance. Watchouts for equipment The equipment you use and how well it is calibrated will also play in to how much chemical you’ll need. While the proportions in your mixes will remain the same, you’ll have to consider if you’re measuring for a small backpack sprayer, a large boom sprayer or anything in between. The size of your tank impacts how much product you need to have on hand in any given application. Know your storage needs The EPA has guidelines placed around the best practices for the storage of many agricultural chemicals, so making so you have the right space to store and protect your chemical investment is something to think about before you take receipt of it. Many pesticides come in a variety of formulations (dry or liquid), and an assortment of package sizes, from jugs and drums to larger totes and bulk tanks. With so many choices, be sure to know the space you have for what you’re going to buy — but know that you don’t always need to take receipt of chemicals on-farm at the moment you buy. You can often have them delivered with in several days of anticipated use. Trialing a New Chemical: Try a Strip Trial First On-farm field trials can help you gain valuable information about how well another chem application or different seed varieties may work on your fields without investing in it across the entire crop in the first year. The basis of an on-farm field trial is determining how a product/method/technology stacks up against another (or the absence) in the same field. Strip trials are just what they sound like—sections, or strips of a field, planted to different hybrids for comparison, or strips of a field treated differently to compare best management practices. The comparison among strips helps a farmer to determine which hybrid or practice would be most profitable and effective on all, or most, of their farms. Read Our Story About Setting Up Strip Trials When Should I Buy the Ag Chem for My Plan? Are you planning to use many of the same chemistries that performed well for you this year? If so, you are probably not the only farmer who wants to get their hands on them. Chemical Prices and Timing Herbicides and insecticides can account for as much as 15 percent of your variable cost of production.2 Every dollar matters—small price variations can add up to have a big impact. Purchasing your crop protection and chemicals in the fall can offer you two main advantages: Better prices in the fall. This time of year, many products are often on sale to clear inventory for next year’s products. If they’re the ones you plan to use next year, you could save money and reduce your cost of production by taking advantage of lower prices in the fall. It’s not uncommon for the price of common chemistries used in grain production to increase each year. Some have predicted that input prices could go up 3-6 percent on many crop chemical inputs. Buying ag chemicals in the fall can be a smart move where price is concerned. Greater certainty for the spring. If certain chemistries worked for you, chances are that other farmers may have had the same success, and the demand for those products may rise. Supply can become tight for popular products, but you can purchase now to avoid this possibility. Once you have the products in hand, you will not be panicking or searching for the products, if and when they become scarce. It is a good feeling to know the inputs you need are going to be there whenever you want to apply them. Buying products that you are certain that you will use this fall or the next crop year can help you to eliminate any potential for waste, and addresses your planned chemical needs upfront. There is often little transparency into industry practices around chemical pricing. With historically low commodity prices, even small differences in chemical prices can make or break a season. Based on our research and the experience of many FBN members, one of the biggest barriers to controlling costs is the variability and lack of transparency around ag chemical prices. You can see extreme price differences on the same products, even when brands and geographies are the same, and even for staple products: Price differences exist across the ag chemical industry, from widely used products like Roundup PowerMAX® to more specialty products. Price differences occur even within states for identical products. Farmers within 15 miles from one another can pay widely varying prices. Even as prices decrease for many chemicals, price variation continues to exist. You should have control over your chemical purchasing and greater transparency to make better decisions about where to find fair prices. Though the USDA does regular surveys on the amount that farmers spend on chemicals on average, very little is known about the real prices individual farmers pay. We believe that farmers should have access to fair and competitive input markets, and that increasing price transparency is a vital step towards that goal. The Easiest Way to Purchase Ag Chemicals FBN Direct ℠  creates a new way for you to buy the critical inputs that you need to grow your crops. It’s lower cost, easy and convenient online ordering with seamless direct-to-farm delivery. Online Ordering from the Palm of Your Hand Chemicals and seed are delivered when and where you want. Direct-to farm ordering is simple, so you can spend time running your business. Shop for inputs and place your order right from your recliner. Or from the palm of your hand on the FBN App . It’s the hassle-free way to buy chemicals and seed, backed by price transparency. Direct-to-Farm Delivery Products will show up at your door… the farm gate… or your shop… exactly the way you want. Delivery is quick and convenient so you have the critical inputs you need, when you need them. We work directly with manufacturers and suppliers to procure high quality inputs at a fair price for you. This information is not intended as an agronomic recommendation, nor are we making any such recommendation. Always consult an independent agronomist if you are unsure of agronomic decisions on your operation. We are not a licensed commercial or private applicator of chemicals including, without limitation, herbicide, pesticide, insecticide, rodenticide or fertilizer. All alternative products listed are only possible alternative or substitute products, and its listing in this document does not constitute a recommendation. Please consult with an independent agronomist and consider your specific field conditions (e.g,. soil type and texture, weed pressure, and rotational factors) before making chemical planning or purchasing decisions.  FBN Inputs, LLC is not a licensed pest control advisor or consultant, a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) or Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg) and this chemical list should not be used in states where a license may be required, including, but not limited to: California, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington.  The reader is solely and exclusively responsible for determining the suitability of any product for his/her intended use, following the product label for proper handling and use, and for complying with all applicable local, state, and federal law. This information is a summary of product information and should not be used as a replacement for consulting the applicable product label. Please consult the label for the most complete and up-to-date information about any referenced product. Readers must have a valid applicator or dealer license to use restricted use pesticides. Sources: 1 Siekman, Darrel & Lowell, Sandell. “Comparing Generics vs Name Brand Pesticides”. University of Nebraska: Cropwatch Extension. 10/27/2008. Available here: 2 United States Department of Agriculture - Economic Research Service. Dips in Farm Sector Profitability Expected into 2016 ( 3 Iowa State University: Estimated Costs of Crop Production in Iowa - 2016 ( ) 4 Herbicide Application Timing - When to Apply What Roundup PowerMAX® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology, LLC, Bayer or their respective owners.