Seed treatment commonly refers to the application of pesticides (fungicides, insecticides, or a combination of both) to seeds to disinfect and disinfest them from various seedborne and soilborne pathogenic organisms and storage insect pests. The term disinfection refers to the eradication offungal spores established within the seed coat or in the inner tissues, whereas the term disinfestation is generally used to mean destruction of surface organisms (fungi, bacteria, insects) that have contaminated but not infected the seed surface. Simple chemical dips, soaks, and fungicides applied as dust, slurry, or liquid have been found to be quite satisfactory for this purpose. The major diseases and insect pests of seeds that can be controlled by seed treatment are (1):
1. Systemic diseases infecting the seed during harvesting or storage; for example, bunt or stinking smut of wheat, loose kernel or covered kernel smuts, Helminthosporium stripe of barley, loose and covered smut of oats, head and kernel smut of rye, loose kernel and covered kernel smuts of sorghum, and kernel and head smuts of millets. Appropriate seed treatment can prevent the spread of these diseases.