Once upon a time seed treatment was a simple fungicide coating on corn or an inoculant dumped into a planter box full of soybeans. Those days are long gone. Today, seed treatments help buy insurance for those who want to get a jump on planting. They can also provide protection against insect pests or diseases later in the season. The secret, however, is knowing what's on the seed.
New terms introduced this year include Votivo, introduced to control nematodes in corn for 2011, and likely to be introduced in soybeans next year. Seed Consultants, Washington Courthouse, Ohio, also selling in Indiana, is just one of the companies that offered this treatment to customers.
These treatments come with a price. The trick is figuring out if you can expect to get more return in terms of more yield or less yield loss compared to cost of the treatment.
The secret, specialists say, is to sort out what the treatments are actually designed to control, and determine if those are problems that need protection against. Since the nematode product is new, and nematodes in corn have not received lots of press, you may not know if you need it or not. It's reported to be most prevalent on lighter, sandier soils, but has also caused yield loss on other types of soil as well.
Companies are taking various strategies when it comes to seed treatments. For example, Beck's Hybrids, Atlanta, Ind., are offering it as standard on their soybeans. It's part of their effort to convince customers they can move to lower seeding rates and still get adequate stands. Purdue University Extension researcher Shuan Casteel says 100,000 to 120,000 plants per acre is enough, no matter what row spacing you are using for soybeans. However, he's quick to distinguish between seeding rate and plant population. How many seeds you plant to get those 100,000 to 120,000 plants per acre will depend upon the accuracy of planting equipment, planting conditions, and whether or not seed is protected against seed and seedling diseases and insects.
If there's a bottom line, here it is. Know what your seed is coated with, both corn and soybeans. If you must pay extra for the treatment, know what pest it's added to control, and determine whether you feel you can justify the extra cost.