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The Tale of the Big Seed Caper

The Tale of the Big Seed Caper
Seed treatments add to size of corn kernels and can affect plantability.

Maybe you encountered an experience similar to Pete Illingworth, who operates major farm and research equipment for the Purdue University Throckmorton Research Center near Romney in southern Tippecanoe County. Running a planter with a new Precision Planting 20/20 Seed Sense monitor this year vs an antiquated model that only told if units were working or not, he discovered that when he planted large rounds of two different brands, his spacing, while acceptable, was not as good as when he planted smaller seed.

He was unable to tell that in the past because he didn't have a monitor that displayed how well seed was being placed. Once corn emerges, it's difficult to pick up relatively small differences in spacing and placement unless you're doing actual plant to plant measurements and calculating standard deviation numbers so you can get a handle on whether not your planter is delivering accurate stands.

This time, he could tell the difference. He noted that on the Deere vacuum planter, he was already running the largest plate, meaning the largest hole size, that came with the planter. He is considering investigating ordering plates with a larger hole size for planting seed such as large rounds in the future.

Last year was a pretty good year for growing seed in most places, but there's more to the story than just the size of the large rounds as they came off the seed corn cob, says Dave Nanda, Indianapolis, a crops consultant. The other factor is that the seed was treated. In fact, in at least one of the two cases, the seed was treated with two treatments- Poncho and Votivo. Poncho 1250 is the highest-level seed treatment insecticide in that brand line. Votivo is a new product hat is designed to control nematodes, believed to be a bigger problem in eating away at corn yield than many people once thought.

"These treatments add size to the kernels, no doubt about it," Nanda says. "They can affect planting of the seed. It is definitely something that you need to take into account in the future when you set up for planting. If the seed is coated, it will plant as if it is a larger seed."

Nanda is also director of genetics and technology for Seed Consultants, Inc. Reach him at: [email protected].

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