Seed World

They Said It Could Not Be Done

Controlling thrips is one of the most significant, early-season issues facing cotton farmers. The pest has developed resistance to several seed-applied insecticides but not to acephate. Applying acephate as a cotton seed treatment for thrips control would be an ideal solution, except that it is difficult to apply or even handle seed treated with acephate. Acephate just does not lend itself to being blended into seed treatment, nor does it adhere evenly to seeds. Growers do not reliably know what rate of efficacy they are getting across their fields, so they frequently make a foliar application to limit future injury after thrips have already done seedling damage.

A few years ago, Americot, Inc., an independent cotton seed company, determined to develop a reliable cotton seed treatment incorporating both acephate and high-performance STartUP IMIDA, imidacloprid from UPL, Ltd. to provide early-season seedling protection against thrips

“We were told by several ‘experts’ that it could not be done, that acephate could not be successfully applied as a seed treatment,” Americot General Manager Chiree Fields recalls. “That is when we approached Sam Cloete and his team with Kannar Earth Science. We wanted a collaborator to develop a new formulation to enhance our existing CottolySTTM seed treatments. We needed something innovative and different from the rest of the industry that could control seedling thrips and position Americot as an industry leader.”

Together the three companies were inspired to find a solution. The thinking that prevailed was, “how can we help growers?” The ideal solution would be a seed treatment offering that combines acephate for immediate protection with imidacloprid that provides lasting control over thrips. These insecticides needed to be further combined with a comprehensive fungicide package that includes STartUP Rancona, AZOXY and METXL.

Kannar’s seed lab manager Heather Lewis, worked with Americot to determine what enhancers are needed to promote seed safety, stability while in storage and how to apply the technology. Working together, Americot, Kannar and seed treatment manufacturer UPL perfected the offering to growers.

“I would offer that we did not get it right the first time before we brought it together for high-scale production,” Heather says. “Kannar had been working behind the scenes since 2010, even before we knew what the demand would be, and that contributed to a successful and comprehensive seed treatment offering. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in a scenario like this. Combinations are prone to kick out with some kind of apple sauce or cottage cheese-like reaction. That means you go through a lot of options to discover and verify success. There were about 40 trial entries in our first round of potential ingredients. Kannar’s K5™ growth enhancer and SlipShine™ 6200 Flowability Enhancer technologies came in handy. Our final solution to growers is a seed treatment that provides thrips protection from the moment the seed is planted. For our customers, the result is more uniform growth and seedling emergence, along with essential control of disease and pests.”

Traditionally, most of the seed Americot has been selling into West Texas included only their base seed treatment. But now growers are seeing new challenges in their fields. Americot can address those challenges with CottolyST Enhanced. Americot promotes their higher-level seed treatment because growers see it is as a valuable enhancement for early crop establishment. Farmers know both the challenges and potential benefits of acephate seed treatment. So, when an Americot sales representative educates growers that CottolyST Enhanced can successfully keep acephate on the seed, then the rep immediately has the grower’s attention.