No matter how long you’ve been farming, you’ve probably noticed that there are often big deals to be had on inputs in the fall.
But farmers sometimes ask us if they should be concerned about balancing savings and purchase timing with delivery and chem product shelf life, as well storage. They want to know if buying a product in the fall and making an early purchase means they might be, “saving money but buying older product,” that might expire, or become less effective come spring or summer, when they need it.
We’ve also been asked by farmers if they should be concerned about a newer version or formulation of the product becoming available before they have a chance to use what they’ve purchased.
The short answer?
No. You shouldn’t be worried about product aging past it’s point of efficacy just from fall to spring.
No. You shouldn’t be worried about the newest release of a chemical just from fall to spring (likely to be more expensive, but not necessarily more effective on your crops as the previous formulation).
But you should be aware of the shelf life of the chemicals you’ve purchased once you have them in-hand, because how they’re stored can impact how long they last. While all chemistry should have an expiration date, not all labels are clear as to what that expiration date may be.
Let’s look at a longer answer to this common question.
Here is an example list of the shelf life of a variety of common ag chemicals.
While some may say that as a general rule of thumb two years is where you should draw the line on chemical shelf life, the truth is that there’s no hard and fast rule to how long chemicals stay effective. You can see from the chart above that shelf life for common ag chemicals is entirely dependent on the individual formulation and how it is stored. Always read and follow label use instructions.
Here are a few examples:
- Some chemicals, such as 2,4-D, are highly volatile and have been known to contaminate materials nearby when kept in close proximity.
- Dusts and wettable powder formulations tend to break down more so than liquids, due to high temperature, humidity, etc.
- Organophosphates have a low stability, which often means they can have a shorter shelf life.
What happens with chemical breakdown
There are two primary things to keep in mind when it comes to chemical degradation, and what that means for chemical product shelf life and how you store your chem:
- Your active ingredient may degrade, decreasing your potency… or…
- Your formulation may break down, causing flaking, crystals, separation (often seen in pre-mixes) or a sludge that simply won’t mix or pull into suspension.
Chemical breakdown and degradation happens differently in different formulations:
Here are three tips to ensure that your stored chemical retains their efficacy:
- Never allow the product to freeze, or to be at risk of freezing.
- Store the product in a place that stays below 100 degrees F.
- Store the product in original containers and make sure all lids are closed securely.
With Farmers Business Network Direct, you can order in the fall to take advantage of savings, but you don’t have to take delivery of the product until you want it.