9 July 1999

Strob-like yield lift from new fungicide chemistry

By Andrew Blake

A POTENT new cereal fungicide which creates a Teflon-like non-stick surface to protect plant leaves from fungal attack is claimed to deliver broad spectrum disease control and strobilurin-type yield benefits.

The product could be available in the UK next season.

Famoxate from DuPont is already proving itself in Eire where it is estimated to have grabbed up to 8% of the fungicide market in its first commercial season.

According to Andy Selley, the firms UK cereals fungicides manager, famoxates new chemistry offers the chance to enhance yields and quality beyond levels achievable with triazoles and strobilurins. Although its chemical structure is significantly different to both groups, STAR anti-resistance measures (Arable Mar 19) are deemed appropriate until further work is carried out.

Sold as Charisma (famoxate + flusilazole) in Ireland and France, the chemical is also expected to be made available as a straight here for use in tank-mix programmes, subject to PSD approval. "It is very much a changing market, so we have decided to sell it also alone as a mixer in the UK," says Mr Selley, who believes its ability to boost partner product performance, as shown in Irish trials, will be a key attraction.

In IACR-Long Ashton work on wheat last year, adding the new chemical to epoxiconazole (as in Opus) produced an extra 1t/ha (0.4t/acre) over a range of doses, he notes. "Whatever rate was put in it more than paid for itself."

Famoxate works like a strobilurin, disrupting fungus cell energy production, but does so much faster, he says. "It kills fungi in 15 seconds." Its key strengths are against septoria and net blotch, brown rust and rhynchosporium. It has no claimed effect on mildew, but recent work shows good activity against stem-based diseases including sharp eyespot. "Where you have mildew we see it as the ideal partner for Fortress [quinoxyfen]."

It is particularly good at killing septoria spores even at low doses, with strong microscopic evidence that it prevents them from sticking to the plant, he adds. "It seems to stop the formation of the glue required, so you could call it the Teflon fungicide."

Besides controlling diseases, famoxate offers the prolonged greening effect seen with strobilurins, which should be reflected in lower barley screenings and improved wheat grain filling, according to Reading University predictions.

In action the mainly preventive fungicide is quickly absorbed into the leaf wax which then acts as slow release reservoir for long lasting protection, says Mr Selley. "It is rainfast within 30 minutes."

A blight-control product, based on famoxate, is also planned for UK launch next season.

PSEUDO-STROB FAMOXATE

&#8226 Broad spectrum fungicide partner.

&#8226 Wheat & barley strob greening.

&#8226 STAR strategy advised for now

&#8226 Stand-alone formulation for UK.