Beyond Seed Treatments: Other Early-Season Crop Protection Considerations

black field being planted

Before a single seed hits the furrow, growers have a laundry list of important decisions to make for the planting season. From hybrid selection to seed treatments, these decisions impact the success of the crop through the entirety of the growing season.

The key to finding the best results at harvest is to effectively use all the tools available at the start. Solutions like seed traits and treatments alone can’t defend against every challenge a crop might face throughout the season. That’s why the At-Plant approach is changing the way growers address early-season challenges to get the most out of every plant in the field. 

Benefits beyond baseline protection

At-Plant is a proactive management strategy that empowers growers to make and implement an integrated approach that begins at planting. The building blocks of an At-Plant plan aren’t novel. Elements like starter fertilizer and soil-applied insecticides have been in use for many years. These decisions, however, can at times be made in a siloed or sequential fashion. Adopting the At-Plant mindset means taking all the planting-related components — seed, crop nutrition, crop protection, equipment — and considering them together to help maximize yield with every pass across the field.

An important aspect of an At-Plant approach is selecting seed traits and treatments that help optimize control within the acre at hand. Agronomic knowledge and awareness of the presence of pathogens or insects can aid in making the best decisions when it comes to selecting seed. Each hybrid or variety provides a different level of control on yield-limiting factors and choosing the right option for each field condition can set the stage for both seed treatments and At-Plant crop protection products. 

Seed treatments provide initial seed protection, helping set a good foundation for the first few days or weeks after germination. But eventually, seed treatments wear off along with the protection they provide, and a grower’s peace of mind may begin to wane. This is where At-Plant crop protection, the next rung in the At-Plant ladder, has a crucial role.

“Knowing the shortfalls of the hybrids and seed treatments selected is just as important as knowing the benefits. This will help growers figure out what they can do during the planting phase to complement or offset these shortcomings,” says Adam Byrne, FMC technical service manager. 

Soil-applied chemistries can help protect growers’ seed beyond what’s provided by seed traits and treatments alone and At-Plant crop protection products can extend the baseline protection that is established by a variety of genetics and seed treatments. 

On top of enhancing seed treatments, At-Plant crop protection gives growers more defense options. The level of protection a seed treatment offers can be limited to the type of seed purchased and may not address all the issues a grower is dealing with. At-Plant crop protection products can allow growers to adjust their applications and better target specific pest problems in their fields. These solutions can also offer growers an additional mode of action to address these issues. 

“Seed treatments are a known, dependable technology that changed the game for growers in recent decades,” Byrne explains. “Now we have At-Plant technologies, such as insecticides and fungicides, that growers can apply in addition to seed treatments to not only provide protection both on the seed and in the furrow, but also deliver systemic protection for a longer period of time.”

The At-Plant approach offers increased opportunities for healthier plants while helping to generate higher yields and planting efficiencies. Growers have one chance to influence the success of their season when the seed is going into the ground. After that, they must rely on post-planting decisions and applications. By implementing an integrated At-Plant plan, along with using genetics, traits and seed treatments, growers can ensure that they get their crop off on the right foot with the right type of protection. 

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