A seed can only hold so much moisture. For a seed treatment to be effective, it must penetrate the seed coat. If the seed is too moist, it can’t do that well.
Knowing the moisture content of your seed can be crucial to successful seed treatment application.
Storing your seed in dry and cool/cold conditions will provide the best results. If you treat in the fall but do not use that seed until the following spring, you could be looking at as many as eight months from treatment to usage. Depending on the storage conditions (temperature fluctuations, changes in humidity and moisture levels), there could be loss of either fungicide or insecticide due to dust off. However, if proper storage conditions are used, the efficacy of the seed treatment will not be affected.
Whether you treat in the fall or spring, the key is to ensure not only appropriate temperature, but appropriate seed moisture content. Treating a moist seed can be like trying to clean up a spill with an already-wet sponge. It can be done, but it’s definitely not ideal. Starting with a dry sponge obviously works best!
What happens if we apply seed treatment to seed with high moisture levels? Seed that has higher moisture content will experience greater dust off — because the internal moisture content is higher, the seed treatment will not readily absorb as well into the seed coat and can therefore dust off a lot more easily. This can cause issues in seed metering equipment in the field. The solution? Dry your seed to its optimum point prior to applying seed treatment. This will make things easier come spring.
If higher moisture seed is going to be used, a good insurance policy is the use of a micro-dispersion seed treatment product. This can help mitigate moisture-related issues. A micro-dispersion formulation evenly coats the seed for maximum seed protection. There’s a lot more contact points between the product and seed coat — you get better distribution, it stays where it hits and has a quicker dry down time. Wet seed takes longer to dry.
We can’t control Mother Nature, but we can mitigate risks associated with moist seed by drying seed properly and using the appropriate formulation.