Results from Beck's Hybrids Practical Research in 2011 confirmed that a wide-spectrum seed treatment in soybeans paid dividends with five of six varieties in the trial this year. It's just more evidence that seed treatments that cover a broad spectrum of pests tend to pay their way today.
This test was part of Beck's Practical Farm Demonstration Plots. The seed treatment used was their brand product, Escalate, they the use on seed they sell to customers. The overall advantage was 4.6 bushels per acre, with individual variety performance ranging from a boost of more than 15 bushels to one variety that actually produced 2.9 bushels less. Remember that these are demonstration plots. Soil differences can play a role in results.
This particular seed treatment includes both fungicides and a seed-applied insecticide. Long-term Beck's data with Sure-Gro, a fungicide seed treatment that did not include a seed-applied insecticide, showed an advantage over 1 bushel per acre over a 15-year period.
Where does the yield advantage come from? There is some indication in these demonstration trials that it could be from increased population due to less loss of plants. In the 15-year fungicide trial, the average increase in population for treated plants was over 8,000 plants per acre.
This year the increase compared to untreated soybeans for Escalate was nearly 4,000 plants per acre. However, population was actually lower for the variety that yielded less with treatment in the treated plot than in the untreated plot.At a 4.6 bushel average increase and $11 per bushel soybeans, that more than pays for the treatment. Note, however, that university trials with forerunners of current treatments and with inoculants over the years typically found that while the treatments paid over time if used every year, results could be inconsistent from year to year. There might be a bigger payoff in one year, or a year when there was no payoff at all. Much of it appeared to be dependent upon weather conditions and the target problems in the field that the products attempted to control.