All About Seed Treatment

Seed Treatment

As the value of seed rises, more and more farmers are looking for a way to protect their investments. According to a report by Grand View Research, the global seed treatment market is expected to be worth over 5 billion dollars by 2020. Seed treatment is integral to protecting seed and seedlings of all different crop varieties. 

Purpose of Seed Treatment


Protect Against Seed-Borne Pathogens

It would definitely be beneficial to discuss what exactly the purpose of seed treatment is, as well as the expected results. Treating seed is crucial to limiting the spread of common seed-borne diseases. Some pathogens are incapable of surviving in the soil and must, therefore, depend on their seed-borne phase. Treating seed with a systemic or non-systemic fungicide can eliminate surface spores of certain fungi. Systemic fungicides eliminate disease found deeper in the embryo of the seed.

Defend Weakened Seed

Seed treatment is especially important in the protection of infantile plants, seed, and seedlings. Stress is a significant factor in a plants' ability to fight off disease. Poor planting conditions leave plants open to attack from weak pathogens and aggressive disease. Stress can come in many forms, including deep planting, compaction, heavy rains, some post-emergence herbicides, and cool or crusted soil. Non-systemic pesticides form a chemical barrier on the surface of germinating seed. The barrier protects from chewing insects and soil-borne pathogens. Certain systemic pesticides continue to protect the seedlings after emergence, thwarting sucking insects like aphids.

Advantages of Seed Treatment


Protection at a Crucial Time

Treating seed can be very advantageous when applied properly. The seed-borne phase of most pathogens is the most vulnerable. Correct application of both contact and systemic fungicides work to destroy the pathogen before planting, killing the disease before it can cause significant damage. However, seed and seedlings are also vulnerable during this stage, making them easily susceptible to disease. By using a fungicide in the proper concentration, they are being given the best possible protection at such a crucial time.

More Cost-Effective

Because seed are inherently smaller than mature plants or even seedlings, a much lower dose of insecticide and fungicide can be used to treat them. Rather than crop dusting an entire field of mature plants, a much smaller amount can be applied and be just as effective. Using lower doses dramatically lowers the cost for farmers. Seed treatments also diminish the negative effects pesticides have on the environment. In most cases, seed treatment is more beneficial for farmers than conventional means of pesticide application.

Downsides of Seed Treatment


Smaller Window of Protection

As with most things, there are some downsides to treating seed. Seed treatment provides a smaller window of protection than other conventional means of pesticide application. Using chemicals in smaller amounts, while having significant economic and environmental advantages, can not offer the same duration of protection. Once the seedling begins to grow, the pesticide applied to the seed begins to dilute and breakdown which shortens the window in which it remains effective.

Shorter "Shelf Life"

The “shelf life” of treated seed can be lower than their untreated counterparts. While the effect is minimal, it can make a difference in the effectiveness of the treatment as well as the seed. The problem generally comes in long-term storage between several seasons, which can be a non-issue if the seed is used before that timeframe. Knowing how much seed is necessary for planting can help lower the potential downside of having to store treated seed for extended periods of time.

Alternatives to Seed Treatment


Purchasing Certified Seed

Treating seed is far from the only option when trying to maximize yields and lower potential risks. Purchasing certified seed guarantees that the seed was checked for certain common diseases. Using high quality certified seed can outright eliminate the need for any additional treatment. Using certified seed can help bolster yields because it is clean and is generally very pure, so farmers know exactly what they are getting.

Post-Emergent Sprays

Post-emergent sprays are another effective way of dealing with unwanted pests. Sprays control a wider variety of pests and can provide a longer window of protection after emergence than seed treatments. Treating seed, however, is a more economically viable solution. Seed treatments are also more convenient and environmentally friendly. Pairing treatments with certified seed offers the best, most cost-effective solution to pest control.


While there are both advantages and disadvantages to seed treatment, it should be apparent that the upsides are greater. Seed treatment is more cost-effective than traditional methods of pesticide application. It also lowers your impact on the environment. Treating seed ensures maximum protection when the seed needs it the most. There are alternatives to treatment, such as post-emergent sprays, but they are not as ideal. Protect your investment, view our Seed Treatments and find an option that is right for you.