All-In-One Treatments

Combining products into a single pass is all the rage for seed treatment these days.

The iPhone-ization across the globe of pretty much everything has not spared the seed treatment market. Responding to retailers tired of having to combine multitudes of individual products to create a seed prescription for their grower-customers, manufacturers are creating one-stop solutions that combine multiple modes of action and technologies in one single, sleek package.

Becker Underwood, Inc., Ames, IA, is pumping out distinctive seed enhancements and biological-based performance enhancing seed treatments. Its leading offering in soybeans, Vault HP, features triple BioStacked technology combining a rhizobia inoculant, a performance-boosting, plant-derived biochemical and EPA-approved INTEGRAL biofungicide. “What makes Vault HP so unique is the rhizobia formulation itself, the inoculant itself, says Charlie Hale, U.S. marketing strategy and support lead. “That formulation is unique enough that we were able to get a patent on it. The packaging in combination with that inoculant is also patented, so it’s extremely unique in the marketplace. In addition, it delivers exceptional performance.”

Besides their active ingredient offerings, Becker Under­wood also is pioneering some new technologies in colorants and polymers. Its FloRite polymers can be formulated with colors and gloss to provide an all-in-one seed enhancement that improves the appearance of the seed, provides ease of application and can reduce dust-off significantly, according to the company.

“Clearly dust off is an issue in the market today, but that goes back to keeping what you put on the seed on the seed,” says Hale. “Why make the investment to protect the seed only to watch it dust off before it can perform its intended purpose? There are lots of reasons that more and more seed companies, custom treaters and growers are increasing their use of colorants and polymers. But probably none is more important than the role polymers play in keeping highly-effective seed protectants on the seed where they can perform as intended”

Other Innovations

Valent USA Corp., Walnut Creek, CA, has solidified its presence in the seed protection market with an expanded portfolio of seed treatments and improved formulations.

“One of our foremost objectives when the seed protection research program was started at Valent in 2005 was to develop new formulations of important chemistries that would offer treaters and growers something unique over older seed-applied insecticide products,” says Karen Arthur, product development manager-seed treatments. “We did just that with NipsIt INSIDE Insecticide. We formulated a polymer system within the compound that improves the stickability of the active ingredient onto the seed during handling and well after planting, which eliminates the need to add a separate polymer during the seed treating process.”

Arthur adds that Valent has patented the technology, tagged as Lock Tight Technology, and it is a key focus for inclusion in future products.

“Another important aspect of the fomulation of NipsIt INSIDE is that it has been found to be very seed safe,” continues Arthur. “So, this is a product that offers growers and treaters a safer, all-encompassing formulation that is very user-friendly in the market today.”

Additionally, NipsIt INSIDE is offered in combination with METLOCK Fungicide, a brand new fungicide to tackle Rhizoctonia and Fusarium, and metalaxyl in the sugar beet market as NipsIt SUITE Sugar Beets System and into the cereals market as NipsIt SUITE Cereals System. Arthur said that in trials both of these offerings showed excellent treater and field results in their first year of use.

INOVATE Seed Protectant, a product Valent co-markets with Chemtura Corporation as an all-in-one fungicide/insecticide product for use in soybeans, also features Lock Tight Technology for seed protection. “INOVATE has super-systemic and contact protection from key diseases including Rhizoctonia, an ever-rising concern for soybean growers,” says Arthur. “Also, with protection from key soybean pests, INOVATE helps growers improve soybean stands, resulting in increased yield and return on investment.”

One of the most well-known products among this new class of do-it-all seed treatment technology is Bayer Crop­Science’s Poncho/VOTiVO, first introduced for corn in 2010 and for soybeans and cotton in late 2012.

“Poncho/VOTiVO is the only product that actually offers a biological and insecticide put together,” says Brad May, strategic business lead for Bayer CropScience’s SeedGrowth Group. “It protects against diseases and insects while also providing protection from all nematodes, because it basically puts up a barrier as it germinates, blocking out nematodes from the root zone.”

The product also carries Plant Growth Regulators (PGR), which promise yield increases in favorable growing conditions. “It’s all about plant establishment and getting those higher yields and Poncho/VOTiVO does that,” adds Mays.

Poncho/VOTiVO is set for a full launch this fall, and early indications after harvesting some test plots are that the product will be well received. “The results are looking real good so far and, depending on the situation, if it’s traditionally a fungicide-only field and you put Poncho/VOTiVO on then you can see anywhere from a four to six bushels per acre increase,” says May. “Also, if you’re in a nematode hot spot area and you put the Poncho/VOTiVO on, you’re going to see even higher yield response.”

According to May, other innovations that are coming to market in the near future from Bayer’s Seed Growth Group include a new class of fungicide that controls sudden death syndrome and some new biological traits that control drought tolerance and Pythium.

Higher Prices Lead To Higher Sales

According to Gregg Finlay, Winfield Solutions director of seed treatments, grain protectants and inoculants, the company has had a “banner year” in the seed treatment market in 2012, due in part to high commodity prices, particularly in winter wheat. A key factor in the success has been the growing popularity of Ascend, which started as a foliar feed and in-furrow product but has now evolved into a seed treatment product. Ascend is a PGR that features three plant growth regulators.

“It looks like we’ve got something good going with As­cend,” says Finlay. “The results from last fall’s application are phenomenal.”

Finlay says the next step for Winfield is looking at formulating Ascend for the corn market, and the company will also be researching some new PGR’s in the company’s test plots in 2013.

Meanwhile, Monsanto Co. has added a new fungicide mode of action, Fluxapyroxad, to its acclaimed Acceleron portfolio, which is registered for cotton and soybeans and is “the only seed treatment designed to help maximize performance potential in Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield Soybeans,” according to Acceleron Marketing Manager Tyler Hackstadt.

“We’re really excited to have a third fungicide mode of action added to our Acceleron Seed Treatment portfolio for 2013,” says Hackstadt. “With the addition of this new fungicide mode of action, we are seeing more consistent and complete protection against early season diseases like Rhizoctonia and Fusarium.”

For 2013 and beyond, Monsanto is working on new seed treatments for protection from stalk rot in corn, mid season control of sudden death syndrome and innovations in the company’s nematicide pipeline.

Not to be outdone, Syngenta is also ramping up the available modes of action in its CruiserMaxx Beans, an insecticide/fungicide combination of separately registered products.

“CruiserMaxx Beans is our flagship soybean seed treatment and it brings a lot of advantages for growers,” says Syngenta Brand Asset Lead David Winston. “You get much better stand establishment by protecting the seed from early-season diseases such as Pythium spp., Phytophthora spp., and Rhizoctonia spp. and pests such as bean leaf beetles, soybean aphids, grubs and wireworms.

“In 2013, we’re adding a fourth mode of action, Vibrance seed treatment fungicide, to the CruiserMaxx portfolio,” he adds. “Vibrance is excellent in protecting the root health of the soybean seedling and helping the plant take up more nutrients and more water, so we’re really trying to help the below ground formation of the root system.”

Vibrance is registered for soybeans, cereals and canola. Syngenta will continue expounding upon its seed treatment offerings, with Avicta Complete Beans with Vibrance, a combination of separately registered products containing a nematicide, insecticide, and fungicide protection for soybeans. For 2014 and beyond, folks can expect registration of a new biological nematicide, as well as several new fungicide and insecticide products.

“With these products we’re focusing on that root zone area and keeping it healthy, which we feel is so important for the improved health of crops,” says Winston.

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