Confused about seed treatments? Who can blame you?

Scott Stewart, University of Tennessee Extension integrated pest management specialist, says there are many options that differ by crop and seed companies. Stewart also says there are options for “downstream” treatments for some, but not all, situations. “Furthermore, pricing is not very transparent,” he cautions.

Stewart breaks down seed treatments by crop and by the three pest groups that seed treatments target: seedling fungal diseases, insects and nematodes.

Here are his explanations:

Corn: Unless you special order your seed differently, almost all corn seed will come standard with a base fungicide and insecticide seed treatment. An at-planting insecticide treatment (e.g., seed treatment) is generally recommended in Tennessee. Poncho 250 (e.g., clothianidin, DeKalb) and Cruiser 250 (e.g., thiamethoxam, Pioneer) are the standard treatments being marketed by seed companies. Both are pretty good broad-spectrum choices, but neither are foolproof. 

Neither provides substantial protection against cutworms. Cruiser 250 (or the 500 rate available by request) will not do much for sugarcane beetles. Poncho is better, especially at the 500 rate. However, Pioneer does have a Poncho 1250 rate available upon request in lieu of Cruiser.

For whatever reason, when you order the 500 rate of Poncho or Cruiser from DeKalb or Pioneer, respectively, a nematicide is included.  The nematicide is either Votivo (a biological nematicide, DeKalb) or Avicta (abamectin, Pioneer). The value of a nematicide seed treatment for corn appears to be quite limited in Tennessee.

Acceleron? This is an umbrella name for any one of several seed treatment packages marketed by Monsanto. The Acceleron terminology is used in corn, soybeans and cotton (e.g., DeKalb, Asgrow, Delta Pine), but the actual components of the seed treatments can vary considerably across crops. In corn, the standard Acceleron treatment includes a base fungicide and insecticide seed treatment (Poncho 250). P.s., 250 is 0.25 gm active ingredient per 100 kg seed.

Soybeans: Soybean seed can be purchased untreated, with a base fungicide seed treatment, with fungicide + insecticide, or with fungicide, insecticide and a nematicide. Downstream treatments can typically be made by your local distributor. Fungicide or fungicide plus insecticide seed treatments are often recommended in Tennessee, especially in early planted soybeans. The standard base fungicide treatments offered by seed companies are pretty robust.