Seed treatments tailored to specific varieties

Josh Gunther, Burrus product lead, discussed the PowerShield seed treatment program that focuses on the right recipe, right rate and right return on investment based on data from extensive field trials. The presentation was part of the recent DONMARIO Seeds field day at its U.S. headquarters in Gibson City, Illinois.

GIBSON CITY, Ill. — There’s the 4Rs of nutrient management and now the 3Rs of seed treatment can be added to the mix of strategies.

“Our goals of PowerShield seed treatment is the right recipe, making sure we have the right chemistries applied to that seed to get the level of controls that we need; the right rate, using that chemistry at the appropriate rate to get the best level of control possible; and the right return, looking at our return on investment,” Josh Gunther, Burrus product lead, said at the recent DONMARIO Seeds field day.

“Our goal with PowerShield seed treatment is going to be a three-to-one return on investment. Every dollar that we put into seed treatment we’re hoping to make $3 back.”

Gunther added there are some vast differences in seed treatments.

“PowerShield is Burrus’ branded seed treatment. The brand allows you to sub in different components, to change rates from year to year and variety to variety, which becomes very important in the future,” he said.

The program features two modes of action to protect against diseases, such as sudden death syndrome, phytophthora, pythium and rhizoctonia, as well as insects, such as early season leaf beetle feeding.

“With that, we also now adjust our components and rates on a varietal basis. In the past, you’ve always had a baseline seed treatment that’s applied to soybeans and corn. We’re now looking at specific varieties and saying, what does this variety need help with to get the best possible return,” Gunther said.

One example is a variety that doesn’t have a phytophthora resistant gene or has a low field tolerance for the disease.

“This variety needs a little bit of help on the phytophthora front, so we’re adding either an increased rate of fungicide or an additional mode of action to bring more phytophthora control for that variety. So, we’re now treating on a varietal basis and not everything is given the same baseline treatment and PowerShield gives you that flexibility. The seed treatment is tailored to that specific variety to help that variety excel,” Gunther said.

“With the Burrus name being on the bag, they want the best performance of those genetics as possible. So, we’re going to treat them the best that we can to maximize those genetics.”

PowerShield SDS also has been released and is an up-treated version of PowerShield bringing more soybean cyst nematode and sudden death syndrome control. It has a higher yield benefit in high SDS and SCN environments.


In order to determine the best return on investment, Burrus has seed treatment trials across 16 geographic locations, with differing planting dates and soil types.

“This enables us to help understand the differences in these seed treatments,” Gunther said.

Multi-year data is evaluated. The researchers also look at emergence uniformity and emergence vigor a that V1 stage, as well as stand counts and yields.

“Year over year, our untreated check is usually the worst in speedy emergence and uniformity. It isn’t uniform coming out of the ground and it’s a little bit slower. Our seed treatments are helping us get a fuller stand quicker and that’s going to be the key to making yield,” Gunther said.

The untreated soybeans in 2018 averaged 53.4 bushels per acre across all trials.

Seed treatment D was the lowest treated soybeans at 57.3 bushels per acre.

“I wouldn’t call it a bad treatment by any means at 57.3 bushels. That’s gaining four bushels in treatment. So, any treatment that we’re testing is giving you a better yield advantage. That’s a statistically significant difference,” Gunther said.

“The top one was 61.6 bushels per acre and someone may say let’s plant that one, but the difference is we’re evaluating all of these on return on investment. It takes a good return to make it into PowerShield and this one might have the highest input cost, so it’s not going to make it.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s going to yield 0.4 bushels better if it’s going to be $15, $20 more expensive. That’s a poor return on investment. You’d be better off going with treatment E that’s a couple tenths of a bushel behind, but a better value for our customer.”

Industry Investments

Gunther foresees continued changes in the seed treatment industry and companies continue to invest large amounts of money into research and bringing new products to market.

“One of the main reasons for the investment upfront is it’s just a very efficient delivery system. If you think about just a small milligrams per seed that is going on and getting buried underneath the ground, it’s much more environmentally friendly than spraying over the top with an insecticide or fungicide. Your environmental impact is much smaller through seed treatment,” he said.

For years, genetics and the environment have been equated with yield. Gunther sees a dynamic shift of recent where treatment also determines yield.

“Treatment has started to become enough of a yield difference that it’s considered in the yield equation,” he said.


Burrus added DONMARIO brand soybeans to their multi-brand portfolio of corn and soybean products this year. The DONMARIO brand provides growers an opportunity to access a new global source of soybean genetics.

Burrus provides the regional experience to make this joint venture an ideal opportunity.

Independent, family-owned DONMARIO brand was established in 1982 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. DONMARIO has developed soybean genetics in six countries and selling over 16 million units of soybeans globally.

With U.S. headquarters in Gibson City, DONMARIO has more than 100 U.S. research sites and tests over 100,000 new soybean varieties in the U.S. annually.

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.


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