TWIN FALLS, Idaho — With a wide variety of fungicides and bio-stimulants available for use in dry bean production, growers have a lot of questions about their efficacy and effect on plant health, yield and quality.
To help answer those questions, Jemmett Consulting and Research Farm of Parma, Idaho, performed its third and final year of trials. The project was funded by the Idaho Bean Commission and individual chemical companies.
Eric Jemmett, part owner of the family business, presented the results of the trials at the University of Idaho bean schools this week.
The fungicide trials were aimed at control of white mold but also measured plant injury, stand count, plant health, whole plant biomass and yield.
“This year was not a normal year. We had snow on the ground in March, at the end of March, and had the last snow in April,” Jemmett said.
“Soils were extremely wet, and we ran into a lot of compaction issues. But we didn’t see too many issues in stand counts; they were all pretty even,” he said.
Plant health was good, with nice uniform plots, he said.
But warm weather hit much earlier than normal, with the first 100-degree day on June 22. There was only one spot in the test area that had any white mold at all, and there was no reason to continue the study, he said.
But the trial was able to ascertain there was no plant injury from the fungicides and no differences in plant health or stand count, he said.
In the two previous years, the trials also showed no chemical injury and no difference in stand count or biomass. But they also showed the fungicides significantly controlled white mold, with a boost in plant health and an increase in yield.
Growers should apply fungicides if they think it’s important, because there’s no way to know what the season will bring, he said.
The bio-stimulant study looked at whether those products stimulated plant growth and increased root length, stand count and yields.
Compaction was also an issue in the bio-stimulant trials this year, and one replication was completely lost, he said.
There was no difference in stand count or visible plant health in all three years, but the products consistently showed benefits in increased yield.
A lot of the treatments showed promise in that regard, with as much as a 900-pound increase over the untreated check plot, he said.
The first two years showed an increase in root length, and this past year showed an increase in root volume. This year’s trial also showed an increase in biomass, unlike the previous trials.
Jemmett said he hasn’t done a financial analysis on how the cost of the products compares with increased yields, but he views the bio-stimulants as kind of an insurance policy for yields.
Yields from the untreated check plot were extremely poor for the area, which was likely tied to the compaction issue, he said.
“Doing something is usually better than doing nothing,” he said.