A lackluster cotton market may have limited growers' ability to experiment with new seed treatments and in-furrow fungicides in 2002, and at least one plant pathologist expects that trend to continue in 2003.

“With the price of cotton being so low, not many growers are investing the extra money in an in-furrow or seed treatment. You still have the in-furrow fungicide sprays, but it's hard to get growers to use them at the current price of cotton,” says Gabe Sciumbato, plant pathologist at Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville, Miss.

Sciumbato does recommend growers buy cottonseed that has been treated with a combination of fungicides to control Pythium, Rhizoctonia and Fusarium. There are also a number of storage fungi that are on the seed at the time of planting that can rot the seed as it starts to germinate, before it comes out of the ground.

For those farmers who choose to include an in-furrow fungicide treatment, Sciumbato says Quadris Ridomil Gold, Rovral and Terraclor Super X will all do the job. “You can also include an insecticide in your seed treatment, but it adds to the price of the treatment,” he says.

For soybeans, Sciumbato recommends growers choose a fungicide seed treatment that will control Pythium, especially for those growers using an early planting production system. “Pythium is the number one seedling disease problem we have in the Delta. Some soybean fields will also have Rhizoctonia pressure, and you should let your field history guide your fungicide choice.”

Pythium can also be a problem in early-planted rice, especially if there is water standing in the field at or near planting time, Sciumbato says.

There are some seed treatments registered in rice that promises pythium control, and Sciumbato says his tests have shown a stand increase with seed treatments. However, he says, “We haven't been able to prove a yield increase with the use of fungicide seed treatments, except in those cases where standing water was present.”