Deep in the soil profile are plant pathogens, plant-parasitic nematodes and insects quietly lurking, waiting to attack and feed on seedling roots. These unseen pests can negatively impact stand establishment and plant growth.
"Researchers representing about 29 states in the U.S. plus Canada from 2015 to 2019 found that seedling diseases caused a 236-million-bushel reduction in yield across that five-year span,” says Kenny Seebold, senior director of field research and development. "And soybean cyst nematode accounted for a 566-million-bushel loss."
Seed treatments can help stop soilborne pathogens and other pests from stealing crop yield and can protect growers' seed investments.
"The largest investment a producer makes is in seed, no matter the crop, so spending the money for a seed protectant is vitally important,” says Will Griffin, row crop segment manager for Valent U.S.A. “It's about starting off clean from a disease standpoint and an insect perspective and giving that crop the chance to get up and get growing. All the things we do - from fertility to weed control to pest control to fungicides - work better if the plant is healthy."
Seed protectants, including INTEGO® Fungicide Soybeans and Aveo® EZ Nematicide, help plants come out of the ground strong.
INTEGO FUNGICIDE SOYBEANS is a fungicide-only seed protection option that contains the latest technology for the control of Pythium, Phytophthora and other yield-robbing soilborne disease.
INTEGO FUNGICIDE SOYBEANS includes three active ingredients, including a proprietary active ingredient with a unique mode of action. This combination is proven to be extremely effective for the control of soilborne pathogens such as Pythium, Phytophthora, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia.
Prior to the introduction of that proprietary active ingredient, ethaboxam, most seed treatment fungicides relied on phenylamides such as metalaxyl or mefenoxam. After multiple years of use Pythium & Phytophthora are experiencing reduced sensitivity to these active ingredients.
"Coming into the marketplace with a unique mode of action is helpful because where you might have a phenylamide resistance issue, our ethaboxam is not going to be affected and having dual modes of action gives us two different ways to control a pathogen and helps manage resistance where it's not present already," Seebold says.
An Unseen Yield Drain
The impact of seedling disease is often relatively easy to see in young plants. The damage caused by nematode feeding, however, is often more difficult to identify.
Seebold calls nematodes silent killers. “You can have quite a bit of nematode infestation and not really see much in the above ground part of the plant. The only way you're going to know you have a problem is when yields are lower than expected,” he says.
"Nematodes are not going to kill stands, but they are going to have an impact on root systems," says Seebold. "The main nematode problem that we see with soybeans across the U.S. hands down is soybean cyst nematode. The plants are going to grow, but they may stunt later in the season, and they will not reach their maximum yield potential."
Aveo is a biological nematicide with a low use rate that controls the microscopic nematodes and colonizes plant roots for season-long protection.
"The use rate for Aveo is one-tenth of an ounce per unit of soybeans, which basically equates to about a tenth of an ounce per acre," says Griffin. "It fits into all seed protection formulations. One of the key attributes of this product is it doesn't mess up the slurry that producers and retailers are using when they have a high rate of an insecticide or fungicide and other products in there like inoculants and micronutrients or gibberellic acids."
Because there’s nothing that can be done once nematodes have infected plant roots, it’s important to act early.
Griffin stresses the need for growers to soil test to determine what nematode populations are living and feeding off the roots of their crops.
"Producers have traditionally addressed this issue through varietal resistance," Griffin says. "What we're beginning to see through studies conducted by Iowa State University and other land grant institutions is that some traits that have traditionally been embedded in the soybean varieties are beginning to break when it comes to nematode resistance."
"Know your numbers," Seebold adds. "Soybean cyst nematode is the most important problem. But depending on where you are in the U.S. there are other types of nematodes that can cause a problem. In the South, root-knot nematode is as important an issue as soybean cyst nematode. And the only way you're going to really understand what you're fighting is to do those soil tests."
To learn more about how seed treatments can protect your crop from planting to emergence and beyond, visit Valent.com/INTEGO or Valent.com/Aveo and listen to Valent's Field Advice podcast wherever you get your podcasts.