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Protect Your Investment With Seed Treatments

BY DAIRYLAND SEED

You can never have enough tools to help produce high soybean yields. Seed treatments should be viewed as one of those tools, and Dan Ritter, Dairyland Seed Central Regional Agronomist, believes seed treatments are one of the best things a grower can do to put their seed in a position to succeed.

Protect Your Investment

According to Ritter, seed treatments have picked up momentum in recent years. He says 30 years ago seed didn’t have any added genetic traits, so growers largely left seed untreated. Fast forward to today where specific traits have been added and the value of that seed has increased immensely. With soybean seed being more expensive now, Ritter says growers want to protect their investment.

“With the value of soybean seed increasing, growers want to make sure every seed grows and is valuable,” Ritter explains.

Seed treatments are also allowing growers to adopt new practices they may have previously avoided. With the added layer of protection, growers have been able to cut back on seeding rates while still achieving the soybean seed population they desired as well as avoid replanting situations. They have also allowed for seed to be planted earlier than normal as well as into high-stress environments, such as heavy or wet soils.

Additionally, Ritter says seed treatments can help growers get the most out of a variety’s genetic package. He says if the preferred variety doesn’t have a strong rating against a particular disease, then a seed treatment can help emphasize its strengths and minimize its weaknesses.

“In situations where soybeans are being planted into a tough environment, seed treatments give them the best chance of survival,” Ritter explains.

Research and Yield Advantage

Just like any other input, Dairyland Seed consistently researches how seed treatments affect seed performance. Across multiple trial locations in several Midwest states, Ritter explains that Dairyland Seed compares untreated seed to different seed treatment combinations. Those include fungicide, fungicide with insecticide and then both treatments as well as an inoculant.

From just preliminary observations Ritter says the difference between the treated and untreated seed is obvious, with the treated seed producing bigger plants that display greater vigor. As far as performance goes, he says they have seen some significant yield results. With just a fungicidal seed treatment, Ritter says they have seen an average 3- to 4-bushel yield advantage over untreated beans.

“If you’re going to invest in a seed treatment, I recommend using a fungicide seed treatment,” Ritter says.

Making the Right Decision

Ritter considers fungicide to be the “cornerstone” of seed treatments. Then he says growers can decide if they want to add an insecticide or an inoculant layer. However, as with any decision, what seed treatments are used will vary from farm to farm depending on multiple variables.

For those reasons, Ritter encourages growers to consult their agronomist, seed dealer and other trusted advisors to help make the best decision for their farm. Before entering those conversations, Ritter says growers should be ready to discuss every part of their field history. This should include historic yields, pest pressures from weeds, insects and diseases, as well as what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. This can be kept in a journal or with a data management tool, like Granular Insights, to keep everything organized and accessible.

All of this information, along with the seed’s agronomic traits, weighs heavily on the decision of which technologies should be used to produce a high-yielding crop. For example, if the fields don’t have a history of pest pressures and the seed has good ratings against specific diseases, or the seed won’t be planted in an area with heavy cover crop residue, then an insecticide seed treatment may not be necessary.

In an industry where every seed must produce, Ritter has seen enough data and examples to believe seed treatments are a valuable tool to accomplish that goal.

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