Now You Need A Scorecard For Seed Treatments

Field expanding every year with new entries.

Published on: Feb 28, 2011

You're doing well if you can keep all of the GMO traits straightened out in your mind. There are a ton on the market, with many more promised to come. And now attention turns to seed treatments. Much more than just inoculants today, a wide range of products are appearing for corn and soybeans.

Sparking interest this spring is Votivo from BASF, being marketed to control nematodes in corn alongside Poncho 500. Corn nematodes are probably doing more damage than you may think, especially in lighter soils. However, Greg Kneubuhler, G & K Concepts, Harlan, says the only way to know for sure if you have a nematode problem is to test for them. That involves pulling a soil sample and sending to a lab that can analyze for the presence of nematodes.

Unfortunately, the best time to pull that sample as far as getting accurate results is concerned is during the growing season. If you want to try the product on some seed this year, leave check strips.

In fact, leave replicated check strips. Saying that you will compare to the field across the road without Votivo is meaningless, experts say. Instead, dump treated corn in half your planter and untreated corn in the other. Make several rounds so you can harvest several strips and get more valid comparisons.

Ironically, cyst nematodes have been recognized as a major problem in soybeans for many years. Resistant varieties are available which appeal to many users. BASF plans to release Votivo for soybeans in 2012, pending regulatory approvals.

Be careful when choosing the seed insecticide. Just to say 'Poncho' isn't enough. It's now available in the 250, 500 and 1,200 rate, as are comparable brands. The 1,250 rate will normally get light to moderate infestations of rootworms. But if you live in an area where corn rootworm pressure is heavy, especially the western rootworm variant that lays eggs in soybeans so larval rootworms infest corn, even the high rate of soil-applied insecticide might not be enough.

Other interesting seed treatment combinations include Cadillac treatments for soybeans that typically include a soybean insecticide plus fungicides to control early-season insect problems. There is evidence mounting that in areas or years where bean leaf beetles are a problem at early stages, a soil insecticide may more than pay for itself. Ask your seed dealer about prices and options available.