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More Fungicide Seed Treatment Choices Available for Early Planted BeansMore Fungicide Seed Treatment Choices Available for Early Planted Beans

Farmers are planting beans earlier than in the past, but with early comes more diseases.

Rod Swoboda 1

April 27, 2006

3 Min Read

Every year, weather permitting, farmers seem to be planting corn and soybeans earlier- especially beans. This early planting is one of the most important of several factors that may lead a farmer to consider using seed treatments.

"Not to jinx us, but if the favorable weather holds, bean planting could start in the April window," says Clarke McGrath, Iowa State University Extension crop specialist. "That would make seed treatment information especially pertinent."

Probably, the most common soybean disease problems in Iowa are seedling damping off and seed rot caused by several fungi. Early season damping off and root rots are often followed by premature death, which in many instances may be attributed to fungal infections earlier in the season.

Sometimes large areas of a field or even entire fields need to be replanted due to early season fungal problems. This is especially true when cool, wet weather early in the growing season creates favorable conditions for infection by certain soilborne pathogens that attack developing soybean plants.

Beware of cool, wet weather early

"Several pathogens are involved in damping off seedling diseases, with our most common being species of Fusarium, Phytophthora, Pythium, and Rhizoctonia," he says. "All four are capable of killing soybean seedlings or at least causing sufficient damage so that the plant cannot achieve its full yield potential."

Seed treatment fungicides are available in a variety of formulations. Some products are labeled for commercial use in slurry- and mist-type seed treaters. "This is the most common type many local seed dealers apply," says McGrath. "I tend to favor these, as the coverage is generally good, seed is handled gently, we have access to most of the top products, and we can make the decision to treat/not treat by assessing soil and weather conditions close to planting time."

Other products are labeled for on-farm application, commonly referred to as hopper-box or planter-box treatments. "Good seed coverage is required for maximum benefit, and there are several good products in this line as well--if you don't mind treating your own beans," says McGrath. "Talk with your local seed or chemical dealer for specific information on types of treatments and availability. "

Considerations to help you decide

McGrath lists some factors to help you make up your mind if you are deciding when to use a seed treatment:

  • The beans are being grown for seed. Wisconsin research indicates better seed quality with parent stands being treated under stressful conditions.

  • Planting in conditions that will delay germination, such as cool soils, dry soils.

  • Planting moderate to poor quality seed (usually defined as less than 80% germination). Article addressing this year's seed quality issue - www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/icm/2006/4-3/seedquality.html.

  • Planting beans on beans. He is hearing of more beans on beans this year.

  • Planting into poorly drained soils.

  • Planting no-till/min till into stressful conditions.

  • Planting in fields with a history of soybean disease problems.

"It may take more than one of these factors to lead to problems with plant health, as disease problems are hard to predict," he points out.

Research in southwest Iowa by McGrath and seed suppliers in the area indicate that when conditions meet several of these criteria, the probability of getting a yield response to using a fungicide seed treatment is good. "But we don't have enough years of data yet in our trials to say much more than that," he adds.

A quick rundown of the various types of seed treatments and what they control is at www.extension.agron.iastate.edu/soybean/seedfungtmt.html. "I recommend a broad spectrum treatment if you choose to use a treatment, for protection against the widest range of pathogens. Each brand name may not be listed, but I think every active ingredient in the combination products should be on the list," he says.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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