Seed treatments have different targets

By Tom J. Bechman
More has changed since the days when you dialed up your seed supplier on the black rotary dial phone and said ‘treat my seed’ than the phone. “Treat my seed’ is an antique phrase too.

The new question is which ingredients to include in the treatment. There are more questions to ask.
One question agronomists are fielding today is whether a farmer should pay for Poncho Votivo on corn in case they have corn nematodes? It’s the Votivo that takes on nematodes. The problem, of course, is that few people know if they have corn nematodes or not.
Here’s how the Indiana Certified Crop Advisers panel tackles this issue.

Jeff Nagel, agronomist, Ceres Solutions, Lafayette: The answer is not easy. We investigated some continuous corn fields in 2013 that demonstrated poor growth and corn nematodes were at damaging levels. We have also done random in-season sampling in corn fields and found a much higher percentage of those samples tested at 4, nematodes causing a problem, or 3, nematodes might be causing a problem, than expected. Testing four to six weeks after corn emergence is a good place to start. Testing can be variable, but it at least gives you some idea of the types of nematodes present and relative levels. Another approach would be the split planter test. Put a standard seed treatment in half the rows and PonchoVotivo in the other half using the same hybrid. Logging the planter file and overlaying yield data should allow queries to look at responses. Based on what we saw in 2013, I would seriously consider PonchoVotivo in any continuous corn fields.

Darrell Shemwell, agronomist, Posey County Co-op: Many seed companies are using Poncho on seed corn as a standard treatment. Poncho 250 is more widely use than higher rates. Votivo has been added to the higher rates of Poncho t give added protection against corn enatode. Msot growers aren’t sure whether they have corn nematodes or not. If you suspect that you have nematodes, they would normally be found in your lighter, sandier soils. Many growers are paying the extra $15 to $18 per bag as a kind of insurance policy to give seed the best possible protection. Seed corn is already pricey, so if you get a better stand it should be worth it. Many seed companies claim three to five bushels more using PonchoVotivo. Try it on your lighter soils and see if there is a difference.

Dave Taylor, agronomist, Harvest Land Co-op, Richmond: If you don’t know if you have nematodes and you have sandy soils you probably should test. You can send in samples during the growing season, or set up in-field testing of products like PonchoVotivo. The easiest way to test is to buy bags of a hybrid treated with Poncho, and the same hybrid treated with PonchoVotivo. Make sure the rate of Poncho is the same. Observe side by side strips about six to eight weeks after planting for potential nematode damage. Look for stunted, possibly yellow plants in isolated areas. Collect soil samples and send to a lab for analysis for nematodes. All new products should be tested on the farm for yield increases before main stream adoption.