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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

Know what you are getting when buying seed treatments

Posted Monday, January 3, 2011, at 2:54 PM

Seed treatment costs may vary from $3 to $25 per acre depending on the crops and treatment options. It is important to know what you are getting. The reliance on and use of seed treatments is likely to increase.

Increased seed costs have resulted in reduced seeding rates in some situations and increased the need to protect the seeds that are planted. Seed treatments are easy to use and relatively safe to handle.

Many of these seed treatments are relative new pesticides with good safety profiles. They are also relatively profitable for manufacturers compared with traditional treatments. There is also public and legislated pressure to remove older, in-furrow pesticides in favor of new seed treatments because of lower use rates.

Many of the seed treatments we currently use have documented value in preventing crop losses. Products like Poncho and cruiser in corn have a long enough history of use the strengths and weaknesses are understood. Recent testing of insecticide treatments in soybean throughout the mid-south has documented their potential value.

The bad news is that we are losing some options. Some alternate treatments are being removed from the market in favor of seed treatments that may not always provide the same level of plant protection. Some companies have vertically integrated or partnered with seed treatment providers and once optional seed treatments are sometimes becoming standard if not mandatory. Standard seed treatments are not necessarily the optimal rates across all situations. In addition, new seed treatments can reach the market before they are adequately and independently tested to determine their value if any. Finally, add-on active ingredients are sometimes being included on seed as much for brand protection and differentiation than for need.

What can you do to manage seed treatments?

1. Ask questions and stay informed as to what treatments come standard.
2.Is there a base fungicide or insecticide?
3.What optional seed treatments can be requested?
4.Determine rates and costs to make sure you are comparing apples with apples.
5.Be cynical of new and untested treatments.
6.Evaluate treatment options by looking for independent sources of data and you own on-farm testing.
7.Exercise your rights to choose seed treatments that fit your needs and reward seed companies that provide you with these options.

Growers should have reasonable expectations. Many existing insecticide and fungicide treatments already provide substantial protection against yield loss. There may not always be much room for improvement above these current options. New seed treatments are not likely to provide miraculous increases in yield.

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As our local University of Missouri Agronomy Extension Specialist, Crook has been writing a column for the print edition Agriculture page for the past three years and we will now be sharing it on our web version. Crook has a bachelor and masters degree in agronomy from University of Missouri and received his doctorate in Agronomy from Kansas State University. He was in soybean variety development research for 22 years for various seed companies and has been Saline County's agronomy specialist for 10 years.
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