New plant health products are helping change the perception of fungicides
The conventional wisdom that fungicides are ″nice to have″ applications that cannot match ″must have″ herbicides is being challenged.
″One of the things that we’re learning more and more, is that in addition to disease control, certain classes of fungicides — we call them plant health fungicides — have the ability to also increase the productivity and the efficiency of the crop,″ says Tyler Harp, Fungicide Technical Product Lead with Syngenta US.
Syngenta calls these fungicides, including Miravis Neo, ″cleaner and greener.″ Cleaner refers to the ability to manage yield-robbing fungal diseases. Greener refers to the prolonged greening of the plant, by which the fungicide ultimately enables the plant to produce more energy for the period that it’s in the field as opposed to a premature senescence or dry down.
″We want to link the fact that it’s cleaner and has good disease control, but it’s greener because of these plant health benefits: preservation of yield in the presence of abiotic stress, as well as a more efficient and productive crop,″ Harp says.
Botanical Solution Inc. (BSI)’s Quillibrium biofungicide — which was first commercialized in 2019 in Chile and in 2021 in Peru through a partnership with Syngenta and will also launch in Mexico — is another example of these products’ multifaceted properties.
This broad-spectrum biofungicide, based on the extract of Quillaja saponaria Molina, a plant native to Chile, has been proven to be highly efficacious and consistent in the prevention and control of Botrytis cinerea, powdery mildew, sour rot, Alternaria, and others, especially for conventional growers of blueberries, vines, and vegetables. It also triggers a systemic acquired response in the plant when used as a preventative treatment, which results in yield gains across different geographies and markets.
The biofungicide’s unique modes of action provide growers with an effective tool for resistance management and promotes worldwide exports of top-quality fresh produce, meeting the strictest MRL guidelines.
Dr. Eric Tedford, R&D manager for Summit Agro USA, exclusive U.S. distributor for STK Bio-Technologies, explains that STK’s tea tree oil-based biofungicide, Timorex ACT, and hybrid fungicide Regev (tea tree oil + difenoconazole), are primarily known for their high efficacy against a broad spectrum of plant-pathogenic fungi with strong prophylactic and curative activities in crops including vegetables, herbs, grapevines, bananas, rice, coffee, and fruit trees.
Yet, tea tree oil has also been found to turn on genes in some crops, such as bananas and tomatoes, to become resistant to disease.
″You can almost equate it to giving a plant a vaccination,″ Tedford describes.