Pros and cons of using generic ag chemicals mobile article header image


There will be plenty of rebates, tie-ins, and other programs on crop protection products for 2021. If you don’t like that, then chances are your first thought may be to buy generic ag chemicals and get your rebate up front in the form of a lower price. That’s what I’ve always thought about generic products, too. Save money up front rather than waiting for a rebate to come out close to the same net price. Is that still the reality, though? Here’s a look at some of the big pros and cons of buying generic.


One thing my dad and both my grandpas told me about farming is you’ve got to manage risk. When it comes to buying name brand crop protection products, risk management is one of the biggest advantages they’ve got versus the generic competitors. If you use a name brand herbicide to control a labeled weed at the right timing and the weeds don’t die – chances are very strong that a rep for that company will come out and walk your field with you at the minimum. If they see you did things right, chances are also very strong they will pay for at least part of the respray to take those weeds out. That’s risk management. It’s not exactly a “last dollar spent” kind of program, but at least you know you’ve got some insurance.


I used to think the name brand products were ALWAYS of higher quality than the generics. While the original manufacturers of crop protection products may often have some advantages in processes and techniques of making ag chemicals, they don’t always have a leg up on the competition. In fact, there are times where the generic manufacturer also makes product for the name brand or vice versa. With the generic products we carry, there are frequently several different manufacturers to choose from. We’ve got enough experience to sort out the best formulations, so I’d call this category a draw between name brand and generics.


It really comes down to what the exact NET PRICE will be per acre using a name brand product versus the generic. While 10 years ago the generics may have had some advantages in this category, in today’s market many of the name brand products are considerably cheaper. For example, take the biggest rebate program out there – Bayer Plus Rewards. Try to find glyphosate cheaper than Bayer’s net offer this year. Try to find fungicide products of similar performance and quality at a lower price when you have four or five Bayer products in your program. It’s not going to happen. If you truly look at NET PRICE, the name brand products are winning more times than not this year.


We don’t care if you buy name brand or generic. We sell both. What we do care about is that you get what you want. There are companies out there pushing you toward generic or giving you a great sales pitch on name brand. Be sure to compare each when it comes to net price, financing, product quality, and respray programs. The good news is input costs have come down quite a bit over the last three years, so there are lots of great options out there.