Redder, It’s Not Always Better

- Jason Kaeb

As equipment advances have allowed us to apply miniscule amounts of a crop protectant to the seed with great precision, it’s important that we recognize “redder is not better.” And that’s a message we should be sharing with our customers.

As the industry changed how it sells seed (by the seed vs. by the pound for corn, cotton and soybeans), it must also change how it perceives a high quality seed treatment application. It’s common knowledge that seed size varies from year to year. For example, the 2016 soybean-growing season yielded larger seeds for planting in 2017.

It use to be that farmers preferred smaller seed when it was sold by weight because it meant they got more seed for the same price. Now regardless of seed size, they get the same amount. The same holds true for the seed treatment applied to the seed.

If the size of the seed increases, the amount of chemical applied to that seed does not need to increase; it remains the same. Even when you have a larger seed, the same amount of treatment should be applied. I admit, visually, it might not look like the seed is getting the coverage it needs, but that’s not necessarily true.

This was my natural thought tendency, until as an equipment manufacturer, we researched and studied what was happening and what needed to happen. If you read the seed treatment label, it’s X ounces per seed. Once you adopt that thought process, it’s easy to understand why redder is not necessarily better.

It’s important to note that there are colorants, polymers and powders an applicator can use to appeal to customers and help make the product visually aesthetic, but these products and this process doesn’t necessarily add value to the end product. They are not providing the seed with added nutrients or better protecting it, once it’s in the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, you still want consistent coverage of the seed. It’s not to say that coverage shouldn’t be good. Coverage should be true from the first seed put through the seed treater to the last seed that comes out. But it’s this false perception of redder is better that we’ve got to be willing to break.

Remember: When treating seed on a per seed basis, the technical accuracy may leave the seed looking less red. Redder does not mean better. Be willing to ask for records of product used and the accuracy of the application.