It can be said that the first 30 days of a corn or soybean plant’s life is setting the foundation for establishing the year-end yield.

And those first 30 days is when a crop’s root system is rapidly developing but also quite susceptible to harm from fungi, insects and nematodes.

Digging roots of soybeans growing from treated seed beans and beans that were untreated usually shows a difference in below ground plant health.

“We haven’t had growers kick themselves and question why they had their beans treated,” said Dean Taeger, owner of Taeger Seed, Sperry, Iowa.

“About 90 percent of the seed I sell in a season is treated. Our customers have decided to plant treated beans because I tell them you don’t want to be without insurance against problems,” Taeger added.

“Poncho/VOTiVO is the main seed treatment we use. It is the standard that I use partly because it comes mixed in a keg instead of requiring us to mix products at the seed treater. I feel the mix coming from Bayer will be a consistently accurate mix,” he said.

The combination of insect and nematode protection provided by Poncho/VOTiVO fits the pest concerns of growers in Taeger’s southeast Iowa service area. The most unrecognized pest has to be soybean cyst nematode (SCN) because the plant can look green and healthy, but the nematodes are cutting off nutrients so that pods don’t develop and beans don’t fill the pods.

“The focus early has to be providing that plant with the nutrients it needs to survive any challenges it might encounter, be it insects, fungi or nematodes, so that those roots are healthy during that early yield establishment, which will allow the plant to prosper later on during the growing season, Ethan Luth, SeedGrowth product manager, Bayer CropScience, reiterated in support of Taeger.

SCN are known to attack soybean roots early in the season and not show their effect on the plant until harvest, and sudden death syndrome (SDS) is talked about as a late-season disease, but in actuality it also attacks the plant early. The fusarium fungus that causes SDS actually can take advantage of spots where the SCN have penetrated the young root to establish itself, too. At the end of the season, SDS-infected plants simply die, again without setting pods or filling them.

VOTiVO is a biological to protect against nematodes that has been on the market for a couple years, and for the 2015 season, a conventional crop protection chemical, ILeVO, is expected to be introduced by Bayer CropScience as a seed treatment product to protect against SDS.

The introduction of VOTiVO was a breakthrough in terms of a bacterium that colonizes around the soybean root and multiplies by feeding on the root exudate. The nematodes don’t recognize the root because of the bacterium surrounding it and there is no exudate to draw the nematode to the root. With ILeVO on the market, there will be a way to stop the fungus that causes SDS, it will be its own breakthrough for SDS control by way of a seed treatment, explained Luth.

Seeing is believing by key customers and then the word of mouth that follows is the best sales support for seed treating that Taeger has in his region.

He also noted, “We have 25 bean buggies that we loan out for growers to use. With all the traffic in the spring at the plant, growers see their neighbors loading up on our recommended treated seed, and they think they probably should, too.”