Why are there very few new seed
fungicides and insecticides available for vegetable seeds?
Pests are just as bad, if not worse, than pests of agronomic
crops. Yet, there seems to be very few new seed treatments for
vegetable crops. Why?
The answer is money.
It takes a tremendous amount of
money to do all the testing, and meet all the requirements of
the federal government that are needed to bring a new chemical
to the market. Every crop on the label needs to be tested
separately, which multiplies the cost to market. So which crops
do you invest large amounts of money to test and include on the
label? You invest in the crops that have the potential to give
you the largest return for your dollar.
Guess what. You’ll sell a lot
more seed treating chemicals if you target corn or cotton, or
soybeans rather than most vegetable crops. In fact, it may cost
more to put the vegetable seed on the label than you will ever
hope to get back in sales. So chemicals for vegetable seeds,
are not on the top of the “to be developed” list in most
A new Era?
Maybe. With the advent of
biotechnology and the emphasis on developing genetically
engineered crops that resist crop pests without the use of
chemicals on agronomic crops, chemical manufacturers are looking
for new places to market their products. Seed treatments for
vegetables are a market that could use some new products.
So…how does a chemical company
make money on vegetable seed treatments? First of all, everyone
has to win. The chemical companies, the seed companies that
apply most of the seed treatment products, and the grower, all
must come out ahead. The bottom line reality for vegetable
growers, is that new vegetable seed treatments will cost you
extra money, but in all cases, it has to be a win, win
situation. The added benefit of these new chemicals to the
grower, must be greater than the cost to put it on.
What chemicals are coming?
Crop Protection has developed a system to introduce new seed
treatments to the vegetable industry. They call this system the
FarMore Technology Pak.
Crop Science is also in
the process of introducing a similar concept.
It’s more than new chemicals.
Instead of charging seed companies for a bottle of the chemical,
they are charging the seed company only for the seed they
treat. Pay as you go; charged by the 1000 seeds; at higher
cost. This cost is then passed to the grower per 1000 seeds.
Syngenta has actually re-introduced some older chemicals under
the FarMore Pak name with the thought that as new chemicals are
introduced, they will be added to the chemical combination.
Currently the base mix for the
FarMore Technology Pak
is Mefonoxam (Apron XL) a systemic targeting pythium and
phytophthora, and Fludioxonil (Maxim) a contact fungicide
targeting mostly rhizoctonia and fusarium. The addition of
another older chemical being used in a new way, is Abamectin
(Avicta), which is targeting early control of nematodes on
cucurbits and tomatoes. Next to be added is a new chemical
called Azoxystrobin which is a systemic fungicide targeting
rhizoctonia on carrots, onions, tomatoes, cucurbits and leafy
vegetables and botrytis control on onion, and alternaria control
on carrot. Later a chemical called Thiamethoxam may be added to
the PAK to control insects on pickling cucumbers first, and then
other small seeded vegetables down the road.
Bayer Crop Science
is also looking at implementing a similar system in the future.
They plan to bring out a chemical called Trilex
(trifloxystrobin) targeting rhizoctonia and fusarium on sweet
corn, and Topsin on sweet corn for fusarium and penicillium.
Also, a treatment called GB34 for all vegetables. GB34 is a
bacterial seed treatment that can activate a plants natural
defense mechanisms when disease causing organisms attack.
A totally new concept, that is
the subject of our next SeedTech Newsletter entitled “Systemic
Acquired Resistance (SAR) in Plants Induced by Seed Treatments”,
so we’ll continue next time. Hope to see you then.