To put it simply, seed treatment is a product applied to seed to protect it from soilborne and seedborne disease in the spring.
But it’s a lot more than that. Seed is an investment, and seed treatment helps protect that investment. Once you put that seed in the ground, you can’t control what Mother Nature decides to do with it. Having good protection on the seed is crucial. Farmers who choose not to treat their seed — whether it’s because they’re trying to save money or are just not aware of the benefits of seed treatment — are taking a big risk.
I love educating growers about seed treatments. There are many facets to this kind of product. There are many chemicals used in various treatments that have different functions. One that I have been working with lately is penflufen, a Group 7 active ingredient.
Used in products like Bayer’s EverGol Energy, penflufen focuses on the most important seed and soilborne diseases (rhizoctonia, fusarium, pythium, botrytis, phomopsis, as well as smut and bunt on all labeled crops), and provides quicker emergence, healthier plants, and higher potential yields for the crop.
Because penflufen is a fungicide treatment, there are no concerns about potential effects on pollinators, which is a topic that has come up in Ontario. If a farmer decides to use an insecticide with their seed treatment, he has to take precautions when using a vacuum planter and use Fluency Agent to reduce dust off. Good stewardship is key.
As seed treatments become more popular, the need for people like me to educate becomes greater. There’s a misconception that as soil warms up, you don’t need seed treatment. That’s just not the case. Soilborne disease is there all the time. We recommend seed treatment be used on cereals, pulses and soybeans regardless of conditions, so the farmer can get the plant populations they strive for established and get even emergence.
There is also a need to talk more about certified seed, and how it goes hand-in-hand with using a good seed treatment. You can use the best seed treatment in the world, but if your seed quality is poor, it won’t do much for you.
Certified seed, combined with the proper application of a seed treatment (good, even coverage at the right rate) can help a farmer protect what is possibly his biggest investment — seed.