Seed Treatments Boost Rooting Power

- Dale Ireland

Just how early do soybean cyst nematode (SCN) begin to stunt root growth? It’s likely earlier than you think. As soon as that seed germinates, they can enter the root within the first day.

If you think about the structure of a root system, consider that it appears much like a tree branch. Roots aren’t single strands of tissue, but have primary branches, forking, secondary branches, forking, tertiary branches and so on. When these early root initiation points are damaged, it eliminates forks and branches thereby reducing root size surface area. Early growth and development lost is rarely recovered.

When SCN or disease infects young plants, I’ve seen roots that are 20 to 30 percent smaller in development within the first four weeks. As a result, its future root mass will be predictably lower.

But what does this mean for the grower? During times of stress later in the growing season, it means the plant won’t be able to access the water and nutrients it needs. Because roots are below ground, we can’t readily see them. And if you’ve not had those massive root systems with all the finest thread-like roots, then you don’t even know you’re missing anything.

These thread-like roots are responsible for acquiring moisture and nutrients. The big ones you see are more like super highways for transportation rather than absorption points. Those finest thread-like roots are the most active, absorbing moisture and nutrients. For the plant to reach its genetic yield potential, these most sensitive roots are required. That’s why protecting the root system from the very beginning is so important.

When that seed is planted, it has the most genetic potential. Just hours after it enters the soil, stresses such as too much moisture, not enough moisture, cold soils, insects and diseases begin to reduce yield potential.

A focus on “Rooting Power,” as we like to say, is what is really going to take us to that next level of yield and production increases. Roots are the interface for everything the plant needs: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and water.

Seed treatments are all about protecting early growth — something that’s essential to realize the most possible from your genetic package selection.