By Sharon Covert
Each day keeps getting a little bit longer and warmer, which means it will soon be that time of year again—planting season. Farmers will soon be back in the field sowing this year's soybean crop.
Many farmers have complex management decisions to make each spring, but deciding which soybean variety to plant has become an increasingly difficult one. In the past few years, soybean seed treated with crop protection products have become very popular.
These brightly colored seeds can help protect seedlings from pests and diseases, but farmers need to remember the importance of keeping treated seed and harvested oilseeds or grain separate.
Our customers beyond the elevator have become increasingly sensitive to this issue, and negligence can threaten our relationship and income. For example, if a treated seed shows up in a shipment of soybeans in China, customers there will reject the entire load.
To maintain our reputation as a leading supplier of high-quality soybeans and grains, we need to properly handle and dispose of treated seed.
After planting this spring, farmers should carefully inspect and thoroughly clean gravity boxes, truck beds, wagons and equipment that carried treated seed.
Farmers with any unused treated seed are encouraged to contact their seed company to find out its policies for treated seed. Seed companies will offer guidelines on how to properly dispose of it, and some companies will even accept returns of treated seed.
In order to protect the integrity of U.S. soy, it's imperative for farmers to take the steps to ensure that treated seed does not mix with harvested soybeans, other oilseeds or grains. I understand that taking these extra steps can sometimes be hard to do, but properly disposing of treated seed can go a long way to ensure we all continue to produce a safe and abundant supply of food, fiber and feed.
Have a safe planting season.
(Sharon Covert is a soybean farmer from Tiskilwa, Ill., and serves as International Marketing Committee Chair for the United Soybean Board and soy checkoff.)