Canola School: Taking a look at the value of seed treatments

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Every year, many canola producers seem to face the same challenge across the board — how do we manage all these flea beetles? The answer to this question is quite often pointed towards one main action — seed treatments.

In this episode of the Canola School, Gregory Sekulic, agronomy specialist with the Canola Council of Canada, explains why producers need to do the amount of seed treatment they’re currently doing across Canada.

Sekulic was at Crops-A-Palooza in Carberry, Man., where he had two distinct plots of canola — one treated with insecticide, and one without.

“Any time we try to do this in Canada we are wildly overwhelmed with the amount of flea beetle pressure there is. So first, we’re demonstrating how effective they are. Between the two plots, I think it’s pretty obvious which one we would want our field to be,” he says.

Although the plots that were treated showed a large benefit, the flea beetles still attacked, and as Sekulic explains, the crop would’ve warranted a foliar application of insecticide. This just furthers the value the seed treatments bring, stating that the “pressure (in Canada) is just astronomical.”

“What’s worse, is that we’re not in a position, after multiple research projects, and hundreds of thousands of dollars analyzing the question in Canada, to being able to predict a specific region in Canada, let alone a single field, where we are going to require an insecticidal seed treatment,” he explains. “As we’re demonstrating here — it’s pretty much all of them.”

Sekulic goes on to say that what we do know is that our current treatments are very effective for both the crucifer and striped flea beetle. Since flea beetles were introduced to Canada, there are very little natural controls as well, making the seed treatments that much more important.

As far as efficacy periods go, currently the seed treatments on market cover a three to four-week window. However, there is current research in process that is looking at extending these windows.

“If we get into a spring that was like this spring, where we are planting earlier, and plant development takes longer, (it’s important to keep in mind) it’s not tied to plant development, it’s very much tied to that time window. The longer those plants are at a susceptible phase, the more damage we’re going to see.”

To learn more about the value of seed treatments, check out the conversation between Kara Oosterhuis and Gregory Sekulic, filmed at Crops-A-Palooza in Carberry, Man.

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