Treating seed has not always been a common practice across the prairies , however, with increased disease pressure over the past few years it is something that should always be done. Remember, first and foremost you must start out with clean and certified seed!
Treated seed is typically faster to germinate and pop out of the ground. Seed can only sit in the ground under cool, moist conditions for so long before it will start to lose vigour and even start to rot. The first way to combat this problem on top of treating seed is be sure to seed only once your soil temperature has reached a minimum germination temperature for that crop (example 5 degrees Celsius for canola or wheat).
The second thing treating seed helps to combat are seedling diseases which typically thrive under cool, moist conditions such as the ones we experience in spring. The longer the seed has been in the ground the higher the potential for the seedling to be infected with a disease. Knowing which diseases could potentially be problems will allow you to pick the best seed treatment for your crop (ex: Pythium seedling and root disease is best combated with a seed treatment that includes the active metalaxyl ).
The third thing treating can protect your seed from is insects. Canola comes treated with Helix and Prosper treatments that contain an insecticide which protects seedlings from flea beetles, you can treat your cereals or pulses with an insecticide as well that protects your seed from wireworms. Wireworms can significantly thin out your plant stand and while the insecticidal treatment will not kill them it will suppress them.
When considering treatment on your pulse crops you must consider one more thing; can this seed treatment be used in conjunction with the proper inoculants? If it cannot then you must potentially look into a different seed treatment or a different way to inoculate your seed, say granular for example.
Applying the seed treatment has two requirements, proper product volume and seed coverage. Before treating know the capacity of the auger or conveyor. Knowing the capacity of the auger or conveyor will allow you to determine what volume of product will need to be applied to ensure the proper product rate is used. Determining the capacity of your auger or conveyor can be done by consulting the equipment manufacturer or by loading grain with the equipment and recording the length of time to load the volume of grain. By weighing this sample, determining the loading capacity can be calculated for any grain type. For seed coverage, using an applicator tip such as a nozzle of known volume output and pressure is needed. Spreading out the product flow across the seed being treated will allow for maximum coverage and efficacy. The most accurate seed treating applicators employ a positive pressure pumping system and nozzles which can be calibrated for any given seed treatment. These systems ensure proper product volume and seed coverage. Seed treatment product rate and coverage is important for cost and efficacy. By over applying the product, the cost per treated seed unit will be higher yet provide no other benefits and may cause harm to the seed. Not achieving proper seed coverage will affect efficacy and the benefit of the seed treatment will not be nearly what it should be.