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When selecting seed for 2021, don't forget treatment

Willie Vogt young soybean crop
HEALTHY START: If farmers invest in great genetics for their soy crops, it may make sense to rethink their seed treatment programs, too. There are new tools to help combat a range of issues that can add bushels at harvest.
Innovation in seed treatment choices in corn and soybeans offers a leg up for top genetics.

Farmers invest plenty in their seed choice every fall for the following year’s crop. One focus is often on genetics, and traits including herbicide tolerance or insect resistance. One area of innovation that’s getting more attention is seed treatments.

Recently, Syngenta held a media briefing looking at a range of crop protection issues, and while its focus was on company product, there were some takeaways for farmers no matter their favorite brand.

Shawn Potter, Syngenta seed care product marketing, notes that after buying seed, many farmers “just gravitate to whatever seed treatment that the seed dealer may have. Seed treatments aren’t the same.”

He points to emerging agronomic challenges growers face and says, “Getting something colored red or getting [any] treatment on it isn’t really maximizing yield potential.”

Potter notes that when you’re looking at challenges for the farm, “Whatever you dealt with this year, it’ll be different next year.” And taking that into consideration with seed treatment makes sense.

Over the past decade, the technology of seed treatment has evolved. Companies are finding ways to apply important products to the seed, so that plant gets off to a solid start right from germination and keeps early-season pests at bay. But the pest complex is changing.

Soybean trouble expands

There are two key soybean pests that appear to be spreading. Soybean cyst nematode is branching out, hitting more geographies across the Corn Belt and moving north as well.

Sudden death syndrome, or fusarium, has moved into new territory, too. “This is the first time that we saw SDS in North Dakota this year, and it appeared in Minnesota,” Potter says.

He notes that company surveys show that SDS is “one of the most emotional seedborne diseases that growers have." It’s the uncertainty of a disease that can strike, without notice, in any field part in regions where the disease has appeared.

A seed treatment is the most effective way to help prevent SDS, Potter says. “It’s that early action that comes up through the fusarium and then expresses itself later in the year, so when growers are thinking through their seed selection, it is important to look at possible SDS products as well.”

Seed treatment makers have come up with new products that help combat SCN and SDS, which offers farmers options. It’s wise to consult with your agronomist, especially if either problem has been present in your fields.

Syngenta offers its new Saltro product that can be paired as a seed treatment with CruiserMaxx Vibrance. “This growing season was our first full season, and it is providing superior SDS protection for growers, without the crop injury we see with some competitors.” It’s one option for growers as they discuss SDS choices for 2021.

Nematodes and resistance

A key for soybean protection against soybean cyst nematode is the PI8788 genetics that have long conferred resistance to the pest. Potter and others have reported that this resistance is slowly breaking down.

Adds Potter: “We’re encouraging growers to not only be reliant on the genetics, because that is doing a lot of heavy lifting … but also combine that with a seed treatment that has SCN activity.”

For 2021, soybean producers can evaluate the seed treatment options available from a range of providers. There are more options available than ever before. Check with your seed dealer to determine the best choices for your farm.


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