“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that seed treatments do protect stand in cold, wet soils,” Robertson says. “I have demonstration plots and growth chamber work that clearly show this – plus there are a few scientific publications that report this. In good seedbed conditions (moist and above 60 degrees F), the benefits of a seed treatment may not be evident. However when soil temps drop below 60 degrees and germination and emergence is retarded, seed treatments become vital.

“However, just because a seed treatment is used doesn't mean a farmer is "in the clear" - what we are learning from our research is that seed treatments are not the silver bullet. Farmers still need to scout their fields and assess stand. If they do come across problem fields, its not that seed treatment didn't work, its just the conditions were favorable for a pathogen that the seed treatment was not very effective against.”

The 12-state soybean seedling disease research effort was funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture with matching funds by the United Soybean Board and the North Central Soybean Research Program It will also develop diagnostics for seedling diseases.

“Eventually this work should lead to better diagnostic tools,” Robertson notes.

The ultimate goal is better technology to see what is causing problems at the root level and how it can be controlled.

“With seed getting more and more expensive, the question is how you make sure every seed you plant becomes productive,” Robertson says. “A single fungicide won’t control all types of pathogens.”

Get more information on resistant races of Phytophthora.