It is the combination of thorough coverage of seeds with the right fungicides and insecticides that results in healthy vigorous seedlings and early plant health.
"When we talk to a customer about seed treatment options, we are talking plant health, disease protection and insect protection so that the plant has the opportunity, based on whatever the environment will allow, to produce the most grain that it can produce, said Bruce Blume, owner of Blume Seeds, Inc. at Redfield, S.D.
A healthy root system is a major concern year after year because of soil diseases that fungicides control, but insecticides play a role, too, even if there aren't major infestations of insects.
"One of the primary purposes of seed treatment is to protect against early-season diseases and insects, but in addition to that, most of the fungicides that we use in seed treatment and all the insecticides Bayer CropScience recommends for seed treatments are systemic, said Mike Reed, Bayer CropScience technical service representative, located in Noblesville, Ind. "They do have a certain vigor enhancement effect. It is something that is hard to define scientifically, but it is something we see year after year after year in side-by-side comparisons. These products under crop stress conditions increase the early-season vigor of the plant. They also increase stand with more survivability of the seedling, and that stand will be more uniform and more vigorous with better color and overall plant health. Growers report witnessing the effect, but it is not something that is claimed on a label.
Blume has been treating seed beans with Bayer CropScience products for the past 12 years, and he recognized from day one that seed coverage is key to seeing the benefits that seed treatment insecticides and fungicides can provide.
This year Blume installed the new On Demand seed treatment system from Bayer CropScience. The computerized system has impressed him with its accuracy in treating every seed equally with just the right amount of product. Additionally, the total volume of product used is controlled to an exact level so that every ounce of product goes onto the seed and earns him income without any waste.
"We ran 20,000 units through this system, and we were within one-quarter percent of being 100 percent accurate in projected product that would be needed. And each seed got the correct amount of product on it, Blume said.
"The system prints a report after every batch is run. It tells the exact amount that was put on the seed. You can hand the farmer the sheet and say, ‘Here is exactly the amount put on your seed.' He can feel comfortable that treatments are done right every time, Blume explained.
The On Demand system can apply up to 12 products, but Blume consistently applies "recipes that use Gaucho insecticide for control of bean leaf beetles and more; Allegiance fungicide for phytophthora control; Trilex fungicide for phytophthora and pythium control; a combination biologicals, colorant and polymer; and an inoculant.
As Reed noted, more than one fungicide is commonly used by hybrid seed corn companies and 99 percent of seed corn today receives an insecticide treatment, and the same is occurring with downstream soybean seed treating.
Seed corn companies recognize that seed treatment is good business so that their seed performs to its potential, and, therefore, soybean seed treatments make the same sense. Reed said, "Downstream seed treatment application can be as sophisticated as the commercial seed treating by hybrid seed corn companies but just at a smaller scale.