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Before modern-day single purpose dressings (SPDs), seed- and soil-borne diseases were a big concern for growers, causing significant impact on yields and proliferating from season to season. While modern-day SPDs have gone a long way to reducing the prevalence of these diseases, trials have shown that not all cereal SPDs are as effective as others.

Claire Matthewman, Campaign Manager at Bayer, says: “When seed treatments work, you don’t see anything – that’s exactly what you want, but it makes it easy to forget their importance, and the severity of the diseases these products protect against.

“Without quality SPDs seed- and soil-borne diseases could have a resurgence in the UK, so it is vital to select the best product available, familiarise yourself with seed- and soil-borne diseases and maintain a high level of good practice and stewardship at all times.”

 Here are three things to consider when making decisions about SPDs:

1. Seed penetration

No matter how effective an SPD is, if the active(s) can’t control diseases which remain dormant deep inside the seed, then the fungus will be able to grow and spread.

Some seed-borne diseases, such as loose smut, remain dormant within the embryo of the seed until germination occurs, so in these instances, only an extremely effective SPD, such as Raxil Star (fluopyram, prothioconazole and tebuconazole) or Redigo Pro (prothioconazole and tebuconazole), will be able to move through the germinating shoot to control the fungus.

2. Broad-spectrum

Not all SPDs are active against all of the major seed- and soil-borne diseases. As a result, it is important to be aware of which diseases are absent from the label, which of those pose a genuine threat to UK farms, and what the impact may be on your crop.

For example, several SPDs on the market are not indicated for the treatment of ergot. While not a true seed-borne disease (as it is not carried on or in the seed), it is one of only two diseases included in the UK Seed Certification Scheme for Cereals – the other being loose smut. For this reason, control of ergot is vital in avoiding contamination and ultimately rejection of grain. Redigo Pro is the only SPD available on the market with a label claim for the reduction of the germination of ergot particles in contaminated seed stock.

 3. Efficacy

Just like in fungicides for spray applications, not all SPDs are as efficacious as others. This means that there is a further complicating factor – just because a disease is listed on the label, does not mean it offers the most effective level of control.

Bayer trials have shown that while many SPDs are effective against diseases such as bunt and loose smut, the level of efficacy varies, and this can be one way in which seed- and soil-borne disease inoculum can build within the crop.

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