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New Reference Guide Helps Producers Assess If and When to Use Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments
Fri, Jan 8, 2016
New Reference Guide Helps Producers Assess If and When to Use Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments
Treated seed before soil covering
by Christian Krupke, Soybean Entomologist, Purdue University

Neonicotinoid seed treatments offer soybean plants a narrow window of protection — a maximum of three weeks after planting. As such, they can be useful for managing early-season pests in targeted, high-risk situations.

These high-risk scenarios are uncommon in northern states, however, and early-season pests such as wireworms, white grubs, seedcorn maggots, and adult bean leaf beetles rarely reach economically damaging levels. Recent field studies support this point: yield benefits attributed to neonicotinoid seed treatments are often inconsistent or absent.

These results and more are outlined in The Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments in Soybean, a new resource guide for soybean producers. Co-authored by 17 entomologists representing 12 universities, the guide aims to provide the information soybean producers need to make the best possible decisions about the use of these products under their particular field conditions. The guide summarizes recent research on both the pros and cons of this approach to pest management in soybeans.

For example, soybean aphid is the most important insect pest of soybean in northern states, and it is listed on labels for neonicotinoid seed treatments. However, soybean aphid populations usually increase in midsummer during the late-vegetative and bloom stages of soybean.There is little or no insecticide remaining in soybean plants by the time soybean aphid populations typically begin to increase, making neonicotinoid seed treatments a poor fit for the most common pest growers encounter in the north-central region.

Growers frequently face limited choices regarding seed treatments. Popular soybean varieties are often offered only with a pre-applied package of seed  treatments. Growers who desire untreated soybean seed, or seed treated only with fungicides, should let their seed dealers know as early as possible when ordering seed for the next growing season.

Download your free copy of The Effectiveness of Neonicotinoid Seed Treatments in Soybean from the Purdue University Education Store.