Seed treatments remain a question mark from an economic perspective, though it is pretty clear that many products do a good job of protecting seeds from insects and disease.

“It’s still unpredictable how much of a yield growers will obtain with treated seed,” says University of Tennessee Extension entomologist Scott Stewart,” but the 4-5-bu. range is still common among many growers.”  The question is whether that 4-5 bushels is a good economic return on an investment of $15 to $30 per bag of seed.

Emmanuel Byamukama, South Dakota State University Extension plant pathologist, offers a few guidelines on assessing the likely value of seed treatment fungicides, including:

  • Continuous corn can harbor a buildup of pathogens from year to year.
  • No-till or minimum-tilled fields may have a higher risk of seedling diseases.
  • Cool, wet soils favor the buildup of Pythium and Phytophthora, and can stall germination, making seeds even more vulnerable to disease.
  • Early planting increases the odds of exposing seeds to cold conditions, slow germination and disease.
  • If germination rate for the seed lot is low, protecting the seed could help make the difference between a poorer stand and a good one.
  • What is your desired plant population per acre?  If you’re aiming to limit populations and save money on seed, it may pay to protect your seed from loss to seedling disease.
  • How much stand reduction is acceptable?  Corn is less able to compensate for poor stands than crops like soybeans or wheat.