red treated soybeans Kurt Lawton
COSTLY COLOR: Soybean growers have an opportunity to protect their seed from insect and disease damage before it goes into the ground with seed treatments. Farmers should understand the types and cost of treatments before investing.

Should you invest in soybean seed treatments?

Field Finds: Know the difference between upstream and downstream seed treatments.

By Kyle Allen

While people grab a cup of coffee at the local gas station in Hawk Point, Mo., besides the talk of the frigid temperatures, everyone continues to raise concerns over grain prices.

“What’s going to happen this week? Did you see the soybean price? Do you think corn is ever going to go up?” Honestly, it pretty much is the daily topic when sitting down with everyone to talk about news around our hometown. Farmers are already thinking about 2018 planting season — and how to trim costs going into it.

One of the hottest topics on many growers mind this spring is how to cut costs. Many local farmers are considering doing away with seed treatments on their soybeans. However, growers can save money by working hand in hand with their seed dealer on the seed treatment they apply to their soybean seed.

Upstream seed treatment
Many companies offer what is known as “upstream soybean seed treatments,” which typically are applied at the production facility. Seed companies that offer these treatments generally apply at different rates or combinations. Below are two key points from upstream seed treatment.

• Packaging makes a difference. While the seed industry is shifting to seed boxes or mini-bulks for packaging, there still is a group of farmers who like their seed to come in small bags. Seed companies can treat, package and palletize those orders specifically to those growers’ needs. Downstream treaters typically do not treat and repackage into small bags.

• Additional costs. Let’s be honest — the seed companies have invested quite a few dollars into their seed-treating setup. Seed companies typically are a few dollars higher than your local seed dealer to treat your seed.

Downstream seed treatment
Over the past five to seven years, seed dealers have invested into infrastructures and seed-treating equipment to accommodate farmers. Seed dealers have the ability to store seed and treat it on demand. Take the time to talk with your local seed dealer about the points below on your downstream seed treatment.

• Seed treatments offered. Have that discussion in with your seed dealer and discuss options. Know what they can apply to the soybean seed. The majority of seed companies offer fungicide and insecticide treatments to their seed. Continue to treat your soybeans, even if you cut the insecticide out and just use a fungicide.

• Where to trim costs. When seed dealers apply the seed treatment at their facilities, typically it costs $3 to $5 less than for the seed company to apply it. Have your seed dealer treat your seed. Seed savings add up pretty quick up front, and the dealer can treat your seed as soon as you need it.

• Establish a seed treatment strategy. Along with your typical seed treatment, companies offer additional treatments to protect from other diseases and pests (iLevo, Poncho Votivo, Mertec, etc.) Talk with your seed dealer about those products. Rather than treat the majority of your acres, treat the soybean acres that will be affected the most. Lay out a plan for those acres that need defense up front.

Investment payback
Looking back at the calendar over the past four years, we have continued to face cold, wet spring weather in April and early May. Many seed companies are offering 100% replant when you treat your soybeans, no matter if it is upstream or downstream. The key is to protect those acres and treat those soybeans from your seed dealer in the beginning. Having the peace of mind to have 100% replant on your soybean acres is critical in case you have to hook up to the planter again.

Take the time to talk with your seed dealer about your seed treatment choices. All seed dealers have different options. Pick the one that fits into your budget in 2018.

Allen is owner of Allen Seed and Service where he scouts 3,500 acres of corn and 10,000 acres of soybeans annually. He writes from Hawk Point, Mo.



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