Seed treatments still make sense in a dry year

Disease may be flourishing in your minimum till fields


In any given year – moist or dry – it’s been my experience that a mere 50%-60% of wheat seed goes down with a seed treatment applied. Conditions are still pretty dry across much of the prairies this spring. I’m convinced that using a treatment to protect the seed and your eventual yield is the right approach to take regardless of the moisture conditions.

Let’s look at the situation in Saskatchewan. Two-thirds to three-quarters of the province is on the drier side this spring, and we tend to forget that some common practices still lend themselves to creating the perfect conditions for fusarium, Pythium and rhizoctonia to flourish.

South of the Trans-Canada Highway close to 100% of farmers follow minimum or zero-tillage practices; north of the Trans-Canada and south of Highway 16 approximately 75% are min or zero-till; and north of Highway 16 about 25% are min or zero-till. Those who practice minimum or zero-till have left stubble and thatch (a buildup of organic matter, earth worms, nematodes and bacteria on the top layer of the soil), which will help retain precious moisture, maintain soil structure, supply nutrients to the crop, and can provide the right conditions for seedling diseases to affect growing plants.

Not only do seed treatments provide protection from a range of diseases that are lying in wait for a developing crop, but they also can protect against insects like wireworm and pea leaf weevil, contributing to an even plant stand.

Seed treatments can also help plants emerge more quickly and establish a strong root system, which will be very important to help plants access moisture and nutrients in the soil if dry conditions persist. If cost is an issue, there are some less-expensive product options that can provide some protection depending on the diseases, insects, and conditions that you may be facing. Some protection for the seed is better than nothing.

Here are some of my customers’ top options when it comes to seed treatment:

Crop           Seed Treatment       Feautres    
Cereals                  Vibrance® Quatro                         Excellent for fusarium                               
Cereals Raxil® Pro Solid option, great flowability


Insure® Cereal FX4

Good option for disease & flowability, improved from Insure Cereal
Pulses Insure Pulse Good for peas & lentils, need add-ins for pea leaf weevil or wireworm
Pulses Trilex® Good for peas & lentils, need add-ins for pea leaf weevil or wireworm
Pulses Vibrance Maxx Good for peas & lentils, need add-ins for pea leaf weevil or wireworm

Cargill has tried to take logistical barriers out of the equation by offering Storm* seed treaters, which can treat seed on-farm, available for booking out of our Balcarres, Clavet, Davidson, Moose Jaw, Nicklen Siding, and Rosetown locations. If you’re considering a seed treatment for your cereal or pulse crop, contact your Cargill representative to discuss your options.


Vibrance is a registered trademark of Syngenta Canada.

Raxil and Trilex are registered trademarks of Bayer CropScience.

Insure is a registered trademark of BASF.

*Storm is an Ag Growth International brand.

Janina Currah

Janina is an expert on canola management and growing cereal crops Janina is an expert on canola management and growing cereal crops including wheat and oats. She has been working full time in the agriculture industry for 10 years since graduating from the University of Saskatchewan with her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Janina has been with Cargill for 11 years and has been leading Cargill’s agronomy team in Saskatchewan for the last four. Janina is always improving her knowledge about agronomic issues, and loves sharing solutions with growers and her team.

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