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Soybean seed treatments vary

Chances are your seedsman not only wants to know what varieties of soybeans you want, but he also wants to know if you prefer treated seed. To help in planning workloads, your seed dealer may be pushing for an early answer on seed treatment.

The Crops Corner panel of Indiana certified crop advisers tackles the elusive topic of soybean seed treatments. Contributing are Steve Gauck, Beck’s Hybrids, Greensburg; Willis Smith, Senesac Inc., Fowler; and Dave Taylor, Richmond, with Harvest Land

My seedsman wants to know already if I want treated soybeans. My goal is to plant April 15. I’ve proven to myself early planting works. If I want treatment, which treatments do I want? They can apply a fungicide and/or insecticide. Specifically, what components do I need?

GAUCK: Treatments for early planting will benefit your operations. There are many treatment options out there, so make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. You need a strong fungicide program that controls many different types of diseases. Sometimes this can take more than one active ingredient.

Also look into an insecticide treatment. We very seldom plant corn without seed-applied insecticide. Why should beans be less important? Compare products through university and third-party data. Know the history of diseases and insects in your fields. Make sure the treatments you apply control them.

SMITH: Having your soybeans treated, especially if planting early, should give you a great return on investment. It’s not a question of fungicide or insecticide, because you should have both. Instead, ask questions. Is the rate of fungicide high enough to control early-season phytophthora and pythium rots? Demand levels recommended by the manufacturer. Apron continues to be a fungicide of choice. There may be more than one fungicide in the treatment.

Is the rate of insecticide high enough to control first-generation bean leaf beetles? Demand it also be at the recommended rate. Gaucho and Cruiser are good insecticide seed treatments.

Are soybeans “load tested” to ensure each bean has the proper dose? Inquire if seed is coated with polymer to make sure treatment isn’t dusted off before planting. Make sure the polymer is water-soluble.

Some biological seed treatments promote plant health under stress. If it’s added at little or no cost, it’s a benefit for early-planted beans. I’m not a big fan of inoculants unless the field has been in continuous corn for years.

TAYLOR: Has manure been applied? Are there lots of winter weeds present? Are soils wet? Are you no-tilling into cornstalks? Have you had problems with soil-borne diseases before?

Fungicide treatment is always a good idea when planting beans early. Diseases such as pythium and fusarium love cool temperatures. They’re more prevalent if soils are damp for a period of time; early planting generally predisposes seed or seedlings to moist, wet conditions. Here’s a link that can help zero in on fungicides needs:

For insecticides, consider past soil insect problems or yearly issues with soybean aphids, manure applications or winter weed pressure. If wireworms are a recent issue, or soybean aphids are a yearly concern, an insecticide recommendation is solid. Surface manure application and winter weeds are calling cards for seed corn maggots. If your fields fit these categories, insecticide seed treatments are a no-brainer. Otherwise, they may be fairly inexpensive insurance.

This article published in the November, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.