As farmers across the United States drive to finish planting, it’s important to properly handle or dispose of any remaining or leftover treated seed.

The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) encourages farmers who have leftover seed to contact their seed company or dealer to find out about their policies and how to properly dispose of treated seed.

Seed treatments are increasing in popularity, but it is illegal for treated seeds to be in the grain supply, says Andy LaVigne, ASTA president and chief executive officer.

“Some companies will accept returns of treated seeds or help you store them until next year, while other companies have guidelines on how to properly dispose of them,” LaVigne says. “It’s best to keep the lines of communication open and follow protocol to prevent treated seeds from entering the grain trade.”

Given that seed today can act as the delivery mechanism for pest management products, it’s imperative that treated seed not be mixed with grain, explains LaVigne.

LaVigne is joined by many U.S. agriculture stakeholder organizations like the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA), American Soybean Association (ASA), and National Grain and Feed Association to encourage appropriate handling by all of any remaining seed that doesn’t get planted.

“We are all experiencing a growing concern for food safety,” says Gary Anderson of CHS, Inc., and NAEGA chairman. “It’s critical that farmers and the rest of the supply chain follow industry guidelines to ensure a safe supply of grains and oilseeds, and maintain our reputation as a supplier of high quality agricultural products.”  

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, last year the United States exported 1.9 billion bushels of corn and 1.5 billion bushels of soybeans. At $3.83/bu for corn and $9.97/bu for soybeans, the export market put more than $21 billion in the pockets of U.S. farmers during the 2010 marketing year.

Since 1888, Alan Kemper and his family have been farming corn and soybeans in the Lafayette, Ind., area.

“I work hard every day to help provide a safe and abundant supply of food, fiber and feed,” says Kemper who is ASA’s president. “It is important to my livelihood and to the U.S. economy that this nation keeps its reputation as a leading supplier of high quality grains.”

Ray Gaesser, also with ASA, says it can be difficult to dispose of treated seed, but he understands that there is no tolerance for it.

“It’s important to maintain supply purity,” says Gaesser who farms in the Corning, Iowa, area. “We plant a variety of genetics and traits and if there is an opened or leftover bag, we put it in the fertilizer spreader and spread it in the fall.

“It’s hard sometimes to do those things, but it’s the right thing to do to keep our customers satisfied and not jeopardize the export market or our grain elevators.”