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K&S Seed Company and Luther Farms use Heads Up to control white mold and SDS

K&S Seed Company and Luther Farms use Heads Up to control white mold and SDS

Kathi Luther’s passion for farming and love for the land started when she was a young girl helping her father on the family farm. Fast forward 40 years, and she and her husband, Steve, have their own farming operation, Luther Farms, as well as a seed business. They started K&S Seed Company in 1996 and haven’t looked back since. A third-generation farmer, Kathi enjoys continuing the farming legacy her father instilled in her, now making memories on the farm with her own family. As a dealer, Kathi likes listening to growers and discovering how she can help their operation. She explains each farm is unique, and growers’ needs vary from farm to farm. “I just like to address all sorts of different aspects that come up during the growing years,” Kathi says. “Some of them we don’t know we’re going to face, and we’re there during the season having to deal with different situations than we had originally planned to when we started the growing season.”

Being raised on a family farm and now farming her own soybean and corn rotation, Kathi has a valuable perspective. On Luther Farms and with her customers, she considers all sides of farming and is ready to address any areas of concern, however complex they may be. As all growers know, every aspect of farming is important. “A farmer wears many hats,” Kathi adds. “There are many decisions to make. Everything is very concerning. It always affects your bottom line, your profitability.”

Increasing profitability and disease control

Biologicals play an important role in the future of farming and can be very effective in controlling diseases. K&S Seed Company has seen a great deal of success with Heads Up® seed treatment, a biological with modes of action that can help growers get a head start against a variety of fungal and bacterial diseases in row and specialty crops. Specifically, Heads Up is the only EPA/PMRA-registered seed treatment for suppression of white mold, a crop disease caused by the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, and sudden death syndrome (SDS) — a soil-borne fungal pathogen (Fusarium virguliforme) — in soybeans. White mold is one of the most devastating soybean diseases, cutting yields by 10%20%, and in extreme cases, up to 50%70%. The occurrence of the disease is usually affected by soil and weather conditions, which can be extreme catalysts for disease spread.

On Luther Farms, Kathi has encountered both white mold and SDS. In their seed treatment room, Kathi can treat a batch with and without Heads Up so she can see results over a few acres. Over two years, she reports a solid four-bushel advantage in her trials, which results in profitability and disease control — “a win-win” in Kathi’s eyes.

Using every tool in your toolbox

As crops become more susceptible or changes in genetics occur, disease prevalence and severity increase, leading to a decline in plant health and yield. Soybean plants can also become more immune to certain treatment packages. There’s a strong chance if you’ve dealt with white mold in previous years, it will come back to plague your crop rotation.

Years ago, Kathi and Steve raised fields of sunflowers on their land. As a result, there is an abundance of sclerotia in their soil since sunflower plants are extremely susceptible to white mold. “It’s something that you never really completely get rid of, I believe,” Kathi notes. Over the years, she’s learned many different ways to manage white mold such as monitoring plant populations, selecting certain seed varieties, using fungicides and now, taking advantage of newer biologicals like Heads Up seed treatment. Growers need to use every tool in their toolbox to combat white mold and as Kathi says, Heads Up is an especially important tool. She adds she can see the difference visually in her fields and in the yield impact the seed treatment has on her soybean crop.

“Especially with these commodity prices, a four-bushel increase — that’s a lot of dollars, or revenue, that it can bring back to your ROI,” Kathi says.

When growers come to K&S Seed Company, Kathi explains they typically already know they have a problem with these diseases and can pinpoint the areas of their fields that are struggling with SDS or white mold. Now, they know they need Heads Up for that extra protection up front, and they ask for it frequently. An easy-to-use formulation that is added directly to the seed, Heads Up works well with other treatments — something Kathi and her customers really like.

Heads Up seed treatment is EPA-registered for soybeans, wheat, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, dry beans, corn, and chickpeas. Used alone or in combination with other fungicide or insecticide seed treatments, Heads Up brings additional, full-season protection to help position plants to succeed against yield-robbing disease pathogens from the beginning.

“It just seems like we’re getting ahead of it instead of being behind it,” Kathi says. She’s received positive feedback from every grower that has used the Heads Up seed treatment so far.

Kathi heard about Heads Up from Chris Prochnow, a territory manager at Agassiz Seed & Supply. After having severe white mold on quite a few acres, she and Steve were asking about new products that may be coming out. When they saw Heads Up, they liked its simplicity and how user friendly it was, not only for Luther Farms but also for K&S Seed customers. Kathi loves the ease of her growers coming by to pick it up so they can add it to their own seed applications.

Incorporating Heads Up into your crop protection plan is easy and affordable. “It’s a very economical product to use with very positive yield at the end of the day,” Kathi explains. “It works wonderfully.”

Get a head start with Heads Up

Heads Up can be your first line of defense to help eliminate or reduce the prevalence of diseases like white mold and SDS. Usually, if you have a white mold issue, you may not recognize it until your soybean plants are flowering. And by that time, it’s too late. Get a head start on combatting white mold and SDS with Heads Up.

For season-long, broad spectrum disease control, talk to your local seed dealer about Heads Up or call 866-368-9306 for more information. To connect with Kathi Luther at K&S Seed Company, call 701-820-0090.

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