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Farmers faced with a fungicide, herbicide or insecticide application have more than one option - particularly as more and more generic inputs enter the market. They typically cost less than their name brand counterparts. But are they really a better deal?

They certainly appear to be, especially in light of a new Pulse poll from Farm Journal media. When asked their preference, a slight majority (56%) say they tend to favor generic pesticides over their brand-name counterparts.

Two University of Nebraska crop specialists - Robert Klein and Robert Tigner - shared some observations and advice on this topic in a recent edition of UNL's Cropwatch newsletter. Compare costs, but also compare what's actually in the pesticides, they recommend.

When selecting between a generic and brand name pesticide, compare their labels as products with even slightly different active and inactive ingredients can have varying performances," they write. "It is important to note that generics may have a lower or different concentration of active ingredients which should be factored into the cost of use."

Klein and Tigner site one example of a popular generic herbicide that lists for $12.50 per gallon, versus its name brand counterpart, which lists for $32 per gallon. That's a more than 250% cost different. But wait - don't forget to factor in the generic is less concentrated (3 lbs AI per gallon vs. 4.5 lbs AI per gallon) or use rate differences (32 oz. per acre vs. 22 oz. per acre). With that calculated into the equation, the generic is actually only 56% less expensive.

"Know the value difference, not just the price," they summarize.

In some cases, Klein and Tigner note that there could be other reasons to use name brand products, including dealer/manufacturer service, ease of mixing, product quality and efficacy, and product confidence.

"If you are unsure about using a generic product, test it on a limited basis before committing to farm-scale use," they recommend.

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