With a broad array of fungal species — some susceptible to popular fungicide seed treatments and some not — and dramatic changes in springtime weather, seed treatments are not a sure bet to return a profit, but they can make a big difference in cold conditions.

“In good seedbed conditions (moist and above 60 degrees F), the benefits of a seed treatment may not be evident,” acknowledges Robertson. “However, when soil temps drop below 60 degrees and germination and emergence is retarded, seed treatments become vital.

“What we are learning from our research is that seed treatments are not the silver bullet,” she adds. “Farmers still need to scout their fields and assess stand. If they do come across problem fields, it’s not that seed treatment didn’t work, it’s just the conditions were favorable for a pathogen that the seed treatment was not very effective against.”