High yields begin with a uniform, healthy plant stand. “You can help this with protective seed treatments,” says seed-treatment expert Ray Knake, Ray Knake Consulting, who has more than 40 years in the business.

Earlier planting dates, reduced tillage and a compressed planting season have driven the seed-treatment sales boom, he says. “Maximum yield potential begins with a uniform, healthy, optimal stand. But wet, cold soils harm seeds and seedlings, especially during their first 72 hours, he says.

“If everything’s ideal, seed treatments don’t bring a lot to the table. But you see the difference in times of stress, with cold, wet conditions,” Knake says. “In 2013, we saw it in side-by-side field comparisons. There’s no rescue treatment available for below-ground pest control after planting with saturated soils and sudden soil-temperature drops.”

And while crop residues protect the soil, they can result in colder soils, Knake adds.

Higher input and seed costs almost mandate that you protect seeds and young seedlings, Knake says.

seed treatment profit curves