By Brian Hefty

Rhizoctonia, fusarium, smut, bunt, seed-decay fungi, pythium, wireworm, aphids, and Hessian fly – these are some of the reasons we suggest you consider a fungicide and insecticide seed treatment this spring.

One of the most frustrating things about seed treatments is you never know how much yield gain you can expect.  Some years it is 5 bushels per acre or more.  Some years it can be zero.  The key thing is to focus on the average.  Also, consider that your odds of seeing a better ROI exist in heavier soil, more susceptible varieties, where more prior crop residue is present, if a field has a history of disease or insects, and when the crop price is higher.  Plus, I believe you’ll find many of the newer products on the market are better at stopping most diseases and insects than the older products.

For example, NipsIt Suite Cereals is just getting launched by Valent this spring.  NipsIt Suite Cereals will be similar to Inovate in soybeans.  It will contain a systemic insecticide that is similar to Poncho or Cruiser (we believe it may be even slightly better than those 2 products).  It will have a systemic fungicide called Metlock (metconazole is the active ingredient) that has looked great over the last few years in other crops.  Metalaxyl will also be included as a second fungicide for additional help on pythium especially.

This is not to say that Raxil, Dividend, Charter, or Stamina are bad products.  They’re not.  In fact, I often tell farmers the most important thing is to simply get a seed treatment applied because any seed treatment versus none is usually a big deal.  The difference between seed treatments is much smaller, although again, we like what we’ve seen so far from the new NipsIt Suite Cereals, including slightly better root rot and fusarium activity.

Dividend Extreme is a better choice if dwarf bunt is a concern.  Using a higher rate of Cruiser, Gaucho, or NipsIt insecticide would be beneficial if you have major concerns with wireworms, and you’ll also get longer residual on aphids and flies.  Many farmers are mixing Stamina (similar to Headline) with the base fungicide/insecticide product they are using because they believe disease control and plant health are improved.  There are many choices available today, so that is great news for all farmers.  Lots of selection means few concerns with cost increases or supply shortages.  Nevertheless, we still suggest you get these products lined up in advance as we expect high demand this spring.

Another thing I think you should consider is the use of biological products.  We’ve had many, many farmers running trials on products like QuickRoots, and the results have been mostly positive.  On average, we’re seeing a 3 to 5 bushel yield gain when investing $3 to $4 an acre in QuickRoots.  There are other biological products out there, too – more each year as the science continues to get better.  Anyway, I’d suggest at least trying some of these biological products.  As Darren and I travel around the world looking at top farms, we find most of these top farms using biological products, and all of them are experimenting each year with several new things to try to get more yield and higher profits.