This time of year, farmers are thinking ahead to next season. It’s the perfect time to plan, and most of that planning begins anywhere from six to eight months before the next growing season begins.

But there’s an old adage about the best-laid plans of mice and men. Things can turn on a dime as far as crop selection goes. Last year, a customer of mine was planning to seed oats, and as he was in line to pick up oats from his seed grower, his marketer called him and said, “Wheat’s really rallying — do you have time to put more acres of wheat in?”

The farmer was able to do that last-minute. This is the kind of situation where seed treatment flexibility comes in handy. Even if your seeding plan changes, the seed treatment you use doesn’t necessarily have to change if it’s suitable for more than one kind of seed. Over the years, working with formulation experts here at Bayer, I’ve gained some insight into this. Characteristics of a flexible seed treatment product are:

Robustness. It should control a host of diseases over a multitude of crops and at the agronomic level required.

Flowability. It should flow easily in different situations — that’s a huge a benefit. If you’re going from a durum wheat to a barley, the seeds are quite different. Likewise, a chickpea needs to be treated much differently than a lentil. Chickpeas, for example, are bumpy and have a lot of crevasses and are not as easy to coat, especially in cold weather. This is where flowability comes into play. Something with a lower viscosity will flow better onto different kinds of seed than something with a higher viscosity.

Compatibility. Products exist that can be mixed with a seed treatment to offer protection from pests. Ensuring you use a seed treatment that’s compatible with these add-ons only increases that seed treatment’s flexibility level.

This is a constant battle on the farm — economics versus agronomics. Using a seed treatment that is as flexible as possible is like an insurance policy that covers you should the unexpected occur and your cropping plan changes.

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