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What's new with seed treatments?
Farmers used to consider seed treatments as seed insurance. “In the old days, using a fungicide seed treatment was to minimize the probability of replanting,” says Palle Pedersen, technical manager for Syngenta Seed Care. Now, they’ve stepped up to become an input that rivals ones like fertilizer.
In 2011, 65% of soybean seed planted in the U.S. is treated, with 41% treated with both a fungicide and insecticide, says Mark Jirak, crop manager for Syngenta Seed Care. By 2015, projections are the majority—59%--will be treated with an insecticide and fungicide and just 12% with the fungicide only. Five percent of soybean seed is projected for treatment with a nematicide.
One hurdle soybeans face compared to corn is their root system is not as developed. This makes it difficult to take up lots of moisture. Saturated soil conditions and poor drainage create a haven for soil-borne pathogens, particularly under no-till, says Pedersen.
To help crops deal with such factors, companies continue to launch improved seed treatments. For 2011, Syngenta launched Cruiser Maxx Plus, notes Pedersen. This insecticide/fungicide seed treatment features a higher rate of mefenoxam (Apron XL seed treatment fungicide) to boost activity against Pythium and Phytophthora.
Syngenta has also launched Avicta Complete Beans on a pre-commercial basis in the Midwest this year. This seed treatment combines Cruiser Maxx Beans with the Avicta seed treatment nematicide to help control soybean cyst nematode. Although it helps control SCN, it’s also important that farmers continue to plant SCN-resistant soybeans as an SCN control measure, says Pedersen.
Maxim Quattro is the newest seed treatment fungicide from Syngenta. It combines the active ingredients in Maxim, Apron XL, and Dynasty with a new active ingredient, thiabendazole, says Cliff Watrin, Syngenta Seed Care technical crop manager. This mix gives provides protection against seed and soil-borne diseases, including several Fusarium species.
Traditional seed treatment protection lasts the first three to five weeks of the growing season. Syngenta scientists are working on extended pest control 6 to 10 weeks out via controlled delivery. Scientists also are researching crop enhancement seed treatments in the areas of water optimization, nitrogen use efficiency, and improved plant establishment.
Syngenta plans to launch a new fungicide seed treatment called Vibrance in the near future. Syngenta expects Vibrance to gain registration in fall 2011 for crops including soybeans and wheat. In corn, registration is expected in fall 2012.
Its active ingredient is sedaxane, and its mode of action belongs to a different class called Succinate Dehydrogenase Inhibitors (SDHIs). Its inclusion in seed treatment stacks will broaden action modes. Other benefits include: More robust roots, increased yield consistency and stress tolerance, head smut activity and low use rates.
There’s more coming in the seed treatment area in future years. Development projects Syngenta Seed Care has in the hopper include:
- Sudden Death Syndrome control
- Nematode control
- Soil insect control
- Crop enhancers
- Oomycete protection