‘No stand, no yield.’ It’s a simple expression that quickly gets to the core of why soybean stand establishment is essential for a successful crop. Uniform seedling emergence requires careful management that starts with the decision to protect the crop’s yield potential with seed treatment.
“Seed treatment plays a critical role in stand establishment,” says Eric Richter, Syngenta territory sales representative. “It helps each viable soybean seed develop into a strong healthy plant that can reach its genetic potential.”
Environmental conditions that soybeans face early in the season often challenge that potential. Seedlings are commonly threatened by seed and soil-borne diseases, insect pests and less than ideal weather conditions, all of which can significantly hinder a crop’s stand establishment success.
“When we have high levels of seedling disease or insect feeding, it is automatically one or two strikes against a grower’s ability to achieve a picket fence stand” says Richter. “Studies show that when strong plants are intermixed with later-emerging plants, the weak plants end up being a draw on the system rather than contributing to maximizing yield.”
Building a strong defence
By including a fungicide and insecticide right on the seed, seedlings are able to defend against yield-robbing diseases and insects.
“It’s difficult to know the intensity of the pest pressure you'll face in advance,” says Chris Denys, agronomy services manager with Syngenta. He’s referring to the unique challenges that every season brings. All soils contain different levels of Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Phytophthora and Fusarium disease pathogens. Insect pressure can also vary from year to year.
“Weather is another unknown variable – are the conditions going to allow those common pathogens to work in the soil and on the seed?” asks Denys, noting that both temperature and rainfall contribute to disease and insect pressure. “The seed treatment is there to protect the seed against that pressure and ensure the crop gets off to the right start.”
Denys points to Vibrance® Maxx as an example of a seed treatment that delivers broad-spectrum control against the most significant early-season seed- and soil-borne diseases. “It helps to ensure each plant is protected as it goes through the establishment phase.”
Reaching your plant stand target
It’s one thing to achieve a good stand, but many soy masters are now taking it to the next level with precision stand establishment. These growers aim for specific targets for their final populations. In this case, the role of seed treatment is even more critical.
“If you’re doing precision ag, you want to get a desired stand and it becomes a lot easier to do if every seed that you’re planting counts,” explains Denys. “Seed treatment is going to make every seed count and help you reach that stand establishment goal.”
“The days are gone when we used more seed to buffer the stand establishment challenges,” adds Richter, noting that the outdated practice often led to too many plants, which can be just as detrimental as a thin stand. “Back in the day, more seed was viewed as a safety factor in the establishment process. Today, seed treatment has given growers confidence that they don’t have to plant any extra seed to achieve population targets with consistency.”