Some economists are projecting 2012 soybeans will sell for more than $13 a bushel, placing beans among the elite crops, in terms of net value per acre, for growers in the Southeast to plant in 2012.

Getting maximum value for soybeans will likely be a bigger issue than ever for growers in the region.

Typically, soybeans have been planted on poorer soils in the Southeast, but that may not be the case in 2012. If so, putting higher cost, yield-enhancing inputs into soybeans may be more common, especially if soybeans stay in the $13-$13.50 range at planting time.

Wheat growers in the Upper Southeast are coming off a big year and acreage is again expected to be high for the 2012 planted crop. With prices good, a similar scenario to soybeans is in place for growers in the area.

Virginia Tech Plant Pathologist Pat Phipps has tracked the use of fungicides on soybeans and wheat for a number years and has scientific data that may play a big role in getting maximum yield from these higher than usual input costs on soybeans.

Since the introduction of triazole and strobilurin fungicides to the market a few years back, there has been an ongoing debate as to whether application of these fungicides pays on a regular basis in soybeans in the Southeast.

There is no question about the efficacy of these materials, especially applied when beans are at high risk from a particular disease.

Whether preventative treatments of these highly efficacious fungicides pays when used as a preventative application on soybeans isn’t nearly so clear.

Since 2006, Phipps has tracked the yield response and the yield increase on soybeans when a number of strobilurin and triazole fungicides are applied in replicated tests at the Tidewater Agricultural Research Center in Suffolk, Va.

“All these fungicides, whether used alone or in combinations with other triazole or strobilurin-based fungicides worked well in disease control in our tests,” Phipps says.

Over the six year history of the tests in Virginia, Phipps says the average yield response from using strobilurin and triazole fungicides was 5.1 bushels per acre in fields where common foliar and pod diseases were present.