The importance of seed treatment

Each season growers lose yield due to insect or bird damage. Choosing the right seed treatment is an important step even if you are growing maize in paddocks which have been previously cropped.

Research conducted at four locations during the 2015-16 growing season showed Poncho-treated maize seed had an average of 24,000 more plants / hectare than standard fungicide and as a result produced an average of 3.3 tDM/ha more maize silage (Figure 1). This represents a significant increase in income for growers and highlights the benefits of using Pioneer’s Premium Seed Treatment® range.

Pioneer’s Premium Seed Treatment trials highlighted the key benefit of using insecticide treatment - lower plant losses and as a result higher yields. They also highlighted the variability that exists between paddocks, growing environments and the incidence of pests.

At one location with high insect pressure plant stand losses were over 75,000 plants/ha compared to less than 3,000 plants/ha at a location with low insect pressure (Figure 2 & 3).  The standard fungicide treatment at the high insect pressure site yielded 9.4 tDM/ha less than the Poncho treated seed.

Every grower planting maize into a paddock which has been in pasture should use an insecticide seed treatment. Even growers who plant maize in the same paddocks each season should monitor established plant populations closely to see how many plants they are losing.

It is hard to predict where insects like Black Beetle and Greasy Cutworm will strike. Treating seed with an insecticide, a bird repellent or both can really reduce the risk of a poor yielding crop. There is a range of seed treatment options available (Table 1).

For more information on choosing the right Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment® talk to your local Pioneer representative, seed merchant or contractor.

Figure 1: Average silage yield of standard fungicide and Poncho treated seed, at 4 locations across New Zealand (left) Average Harvest population of the treatments at the 4 locations (right). Analysis showed a significant yield and plant population advantage to the Poncho treated seed (p <0.001).


Figure 2: Average silage yield of Poncho and standard fungicide treated seed at 2 locations with high and low insect pressure (left) Average harvest plant population of the treatments at the 2 locations (right). Analysis showed a significant yield and plant population advantage to the Poncho treated seed (p<0.001).


Figure 3: Standard fungicide treated seed (left) showing severe Argentine Stem Weevil damage resulting in silage yield loss of 9.4 tDM/ha compared to the Poncho® treated plot. (right)












Figure 4: Bird damage in a plot trial causing almost total plant stand loss. The surrounding plots were planted using Mesurol® treated seed. 


Table 1: Pioneer seed treatment options

Pioneer Premium Seed Treatment Options


Pests Controlled


A treatment designed to control all three major seedling pests of maize.

Argentine Stem Weevil, Black Beetle & Greasy Cutworm.

Poncho®* Plus

Poncho®*and Mesurol®*

Argentine Stem Weevil, Black Beetle, Greasy Cutworm and bird repellent.


A treatment designed to control Argentine Stem Weevil & Black Beetle.

Argentine Stem Weevil, Black Beetle.

Gaucho®* Plus

Gaucho®* and Mesurol®*

Argentine Stem Weevil, Black Beetle & bird repellent.


A bird repellent designed to reduce the probability of feeding damage by birds.

Bird repellent

Standard fungicide

A fungicide for the control of soil borne seed and seedling diseases.


* Registered Trademarks of the Bayer Group