11 things to consider about seed treatments

Soybean seed treatments are an investment that pays in many situations

High commodity prices have made soybean seed treatment seem like a matter of insurance in the past several years. As prices begin to slip lower, many growers will more carefully consider up-front cost on inputs this year. Weather is always an unknown, but the recent string of wet planting seasons have made fungicide and insecticide treated soybeans a winner for improving and protecting stand counts.

As you are considering whether to have soybeans treated there are several economic and agronomic factors to include. These questions from Emmanuel Byamukama at South Dakota State University are a good matrix to help you think through the seed treatment decision.

1. What are the prevailing weather conditions?
Wet and cool soils are favorable conditions for most seedling pathogens.

2. What is the history of seedling diseases in your field?
For example if a field is known to have high population of the soybean cyst nematode, then seed treatment with a nematicide may be an option.

3. Is the crop for seed production?
Since grain for seed attracts higher prices, it may be beneficial to consider seed treatment in addition to other factors below.

4. Is the crop following the same crop as last season?
Survival of seedling pathogens may be higher in non-rotated fields.

5. Is the crop being planted in a till or no-till/minimum till field?
No-till fields may have an increased risk of seedling diseases.

6. When will you plant?
Planting early in the spring when the soil temperatures are low may increase the risk of seed/seedling infection.

7. What is the germination rate for the seed lot?
For seed with a low germination percentage, seed treatment may protect young seedlings with marginal vigor and improve plant stands compared with untreated seed.

8. What is the disease rating for the cultivar to be planted?
Seed companies provide disease rating for cultivars. For susceptible cultivars to seedling diseases, a seed treatment may be beneficial.

9. What is the germination rate for the seed lot?
For seed with a low germination percentage, seed treatment may protect young seedlings with marginal vigor and improve plant stands compared with untreated seed.

10. What is the desired plant population per acre?
With increasing costs of seed, growers may be opting for lower plant population per acre, therefore to avoid further loss of plants; a fungicide seed treatment may be justified.

11. What is the expected price per bushel?
Higher prices per bushel would indicate that fewer additional bushels are needed to offset seed treatment costs.

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