We are about three to four months away from bringing out the dedicated soybean planter and starting to plant the 2021 soybean crop. At this point, I hope the question is not whether or not to have your soybeans treated, but what to have them treated with and where will they be treated. Seed treatments have been on the market for many years now and has had a strong adoption amongst progressive growers.

It’s hard to prove if a seed treatment will directly make you money, however they will indirectly make you money most of the time. This is accomplished by allowing the soybean crop to be established earlier and allows the bean to stay healthy in order to fight off soil pathogens. Treatments help to establish a quality stand, which means less replant. While researching the types of products to use it is important to understand that not all treatments are created equal and to consider asking your seed suppliers the questions below.

1. Where will my soybean be treated?

  • Up-Stream Treatment: Treatment will occur at the production plant
  • Down-Stream Treatment: Treatment will occur at the local level
  • Items to consider:
    • Is the person doing the treatment adequately trained?
    • Is the treater system properly calibrated? Are you actually receiving the quantity of active ingredients that you’re buying?
    • Are the beans being treated when the weather is ideal?
    • Are the beans allowed to dry before going into tank for packaging (Sticky/Surface Tension)

2. Will my soybean be protected from soybean disease pathogens?

Fungicides: We do not know how the planting and early vigor season will progress; however, it is important to get a good stand established early.  If the soil turns out cool and wet, and it typically can during April and May, then this protection will provide value. It has been proven time and time again that planting soybeans early can allow for more bushels, so let’s protect the beans and go after them! A sick plant will struggle all season long.

  • Are you protected for Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, Pythium and Phytophthora?
  • Additional active ingredients can be added to provide protection against soybean Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS).

3. Will my soybean be protected from soybean seedling insects?

Insecticides: It seems like the insecticide is the first thing to go when trying to balance the cost of a seed treatment cocktail. It’s important to remember that this insecticide is primarily going after bean leaf beetle (BLB) which will be waking up and feeding at the same time soybeans start to emerge. The BLB will be feeding on the cotyledon and the first few tri-foliates. Once done feeding, they will mate, lay eggs, and it is these offspring that will be feeding during R3-R4, leading into pod fill.

4. Will my soybean be inoculated?

When soybean is treated with an inoculant, they are physically being treated with live bacterium that helps to jump start the Rhizobium Bacteria around the root system. The question you must ask yourself, is if your corn plant requires 0.9-1.2 units of nitrogen per bushel and a soybean plant require 4-5 units of nitrogen per bushel, are you equally managing soybean nitrogen to the same extent as you are for corn?

  • Since these are live bacteria, many products are not recommended to be applied several weeks or months prior to application. So do your homework to make sure you’re getting the right bang for your bean buck!

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About the Author: Todd Steinacher

Steinacher is an ISA CCA Soy Envoy alum and currently supports ISA on agronomic content as well as serving as an Illinois CCA board member. He was recently awarded the 2020 IL CCA of the Year & the 2021 International CCA of the Year. He has over 15 years agronomic experience, currently working with AgriGold and GROWMARK previously. Steinacher has an associate degree from Lincoln Land Community College, a B.S. in agronomy and business from Western Illinois University and a master’s degree in crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.