Seed Treatments Help Manage Resistance

- Bruce Battles

Managing for resistance is like changing the oil in your car; it requires regular maintenance. While you might not be able to see an immediate result from these efforts, it has the ability to significantly impact the lifespan of your vehicle.

Just as growers perform regular maintenance on their trucks and tractors, they must also give thought to their resistance management strategy, which might mean not always using the cheapest option.

The lifespan of a product or active ingredient varies. Some chemistries are more prone to resistance than others. For example, farmers have been using Apron year in and year out since the 80s. In the Midwest, there’s probably not an acre that hasn’t been treated with Apron. For the most part, you still get great protection against target diseases, but inevitably you will need a new solution at some point due to resistance.

For growers who don’t have a resistance problem, it’s still important to manage for it because sooner or later, something will happen. The best time to address resistance is before you have a problem. If you wait to manage it until after you have a problem, it might be much more expensive with limited, or no, options.

From a management approach, growers should be encouraged to switch out their hybrids and varieties, as well as the modes of actions being used with regards to crop protection products, be it pre-emergence, in-furrow, seed treatments or foliar.

It’s important to note that seed treatments are deployed in an entirely different manner than the other options. Because the active ingredient is applied directly to the seed in a concentrated area and only once a year, there is less risk of resistance forming. Whereas foliar applied products are applied at higher rates and sometimes multiple times in a year, leaving them more vulnerable to resistance. But making sure to use different modes of action, even with seed treatments, is still critical to resistance management.

Neonicotinoids are a perfect example, as farmers have become heavily reliant on them. As an alternative, Syngenta recently launched Fortenza for corn, cottonseed and oilseed. It’s not going to replace Cruiser, because it’s not as broad spectrum. However, it can strengthen the gaps, as Fortenza offers great control of lepidopteron pests, specifically cutworm. Additionally, its unique mode of action provides a nice resistance strategy for a seed-applied insecticide.

Another resistance management consideration is how variety or hybrid insect traits complement the rest of your crop protection strategy. For instance, Fortenza can complement the Agrisure Viptera trait, especially where heavy lepidopteron pressure exists, and Vibrance can serve as a great second mode of action for rhizoctonia control. That’s what really distinguishes seed treatments from other technologies: you can have multiple fungicides or insecticides applied directly to the seed.

Looking to the future, scientists agree that pest and pathogen pressures are only going to increase. It shouldn’t go without saying that it’s critical to have someone focused on developing new active ingredients to help farmers better cope with resistance management, and we’re proud to be doing that work.