At several meetings and based on a few emails this winter it is very clear that Ohio soybean farmers are examining their budgets and looking for ways to cut costs in 2015. Planting naked seed, no fungicide seed treatment, is one place that some producers are contemplating. There is plenty of concern if this is really a good choice to reduce costs.
It is true that soybeans do not always need a fungicide seed treatment. However, on our soils with poor drainage where replanting is relatively common, replanting costs today are much higher than our estimates of $80/acre from 10 years ago.
Basically seed treatments are an insurance policy to protect that young seed/seedling until it is out of the ground and growing.
Things to consider for seed treatments:
- Farm has a history of replanting. No Question use fungicide seed treatments. Even at the older estimates of replanting associated costs: one replant will pay for more than 10 years of a seed treatment.
- Farm drainage system has not been updated or field is slow to drain after heavy rains. More often than not, seed treatments will protect and have added yield benefits compared to non-treated seed.
- All of the soil borne pathogens that can infect soybean require high moisture. With a properly designed, well maintained drainage system, the amount of time a field is saturated is greatly reduced. If the system is poor, old, or not functioning well, the time the field is saturated is much longer which amounts to more seeds/seedlings becoming infected when those heavy rains do occur.
- Reduce seeding rates in 2015. This is another place where seed treatments are beginning to play a larger role, with reduced seeding rates, every seed becomes important and seed treatments can have a large contribution to maintaining early plant populations. In some of our seed treatment studies, the treated seed is emerging at greater than 90% of the seed we planted compared to nontreated seed which may be less than 50%.
- Fields with numerous pathotypes (races) of Phytophthora sojae that causes early season damping-off. We have shown over a number of studies that if you are totally dependent on the partial resistance portion of the resistance package, seed treatments are needed to protect the plants until they are up and out of the ground.
- Early planting and very cool spring. The cooler the spring, the longer the seed/seedling will sit below ground giving these soil borne pathogens more time to feed. For those first fields, seed treatments can provide the protection, especially when it takes 2 to 3 weeks for them to emerge.
There are some field conditions when a seed treatment is not needed in Ohio. These are also the conditions you need if you are not going to treat your seed, so you won’t pay that penalty (replant) down the road.
- Planting into warm, well-drained soil. Those perfect planting conditions when the seed will probably emerge 2 to 3 days after you plant it. Or it feels like that.
- No heavy rains are predicted for the region for the 2 weeks following planting.