Even seeds deserve the VIP treatment

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INDIANAPOLIS – Over the years, growers have learned more about the soil and the different techniques to properly manage their crops.
Changes in cultural practices such as conventional tillage, reduced tillage and no-till have affected the way growers prepare for planting.
Cooler soil. “Growers need to remember that reduced tillage and no-till keep the soil cooler and the residue left on the surface of the ground provides insulation, keeping the soil cool as well,” says Jon Erickson, district agronomist with Mycogen Seeds.
“Since the soil is cooler, there is an increased opportunity for more insects and pathogens, and growers will, therefore, have an increased need for seed treatments.”
Investment. With more growers adopting reduced tillage practices and planting dates being pushed earlier each year, the stress of cooler soil temperatures and disease and insect pressure should motivate growers to use any tool available to help give seed an advantage.
Commercially-applied seed treatments have proven to not only be good technology, but a good value by protecting your seed investment.
The ideal soil temperature for rapid growth and development is different for all crops. The ideal soil temperature for corn at planting depth should be approximately 50 to 55 degrees.
The seed should germinate and emerge as quickly as possible after planting.
Germination. Germination can be affected by cool conditions and soil moisture. Cool temperatures and an abundance of soil moisture can slow a plant’s metabolism and germination, making that plant more susceptible to disease pathogens.
Germinating seeds in wet soils also have a reduced ability for gas exchange to facilitate the biological process of germination, Erickson said.
Seed treatments help optimize germination in these challenging environments.
Disease protection. In a normal spring, the weather can often turn colder than ideal after planting is completed. Seed treatments can help protect the seedlings against diseases during prolonged spells when the soil temperature is not ideal for rapid growth and development.
“A good way to decide which seed treatment to use is to talk to other growers and learn as much as you can,” Erickson said. “The value in using a seed treatment is shown as an increase not only in plant populations, but the growth-stage uniformity of stands as well, which will lead to increased yields.”

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