BLRAgives thumbs-up for malting fungicide
MALTING barley growers can now use Opus (epoxiconazole) on their crops following approval by the Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association. But Moddus, Novartiss growth regulator, is still undergoing tests.
Last year, some growers had to modify crop protection policy when it was realised the products werent on the BLRA list, despite having PSD recommendation.
The BLRA carries out tests to reflect the suitability of treated crops for the industry, by assessing their effects on malting, brewing and fermentation processes, explains deputy director of brewing Michael Spillane. "The safe dose for a human may not be safe for a yeast cell."
The reason BLRA approval for Opus took so long was because tests showed it could affect yeast activity. "It failed the test several times. Initial tests dont necessarily come up with a satisfactory answer." Later ones have shown it can be used, but not after awn emergence.
Growers will have to wait another month to find out if they can use Moddus (trinexapac-ethyl). "Trials are not completed yet," says Mr Spillane. "Being a growth regulator, it might not be the greatest thing in the malting process."
Such confusion seems less likely in future. "The Plant Protection Products Regulations of 1995 require chemicals to be tested for effects on transformation processes, which includes brewing and malting, before products are placed on the market. That means products that are going to be used on malting barley need to be tested as part of the regulatory process," says Mr Spillane.
BRF International, which was set up by the BLRA to undertake tests, is already trialling, in parallel with PSD, many new products which are poised to hit the market.
Banks of Sandy agronomist Bob Mills was disappointed Opus missed the list last year. "Net blotch was the main problem disease in our area and it would have been useful to have the new product. With high levels of net blotch expected this year, plus brown rust, he welcomes its approval.
According to BASFs John Peck, Opus is sufficiently persistent for an application made before the cut-off stage to protect against brown rust, and in a wet time net blotch, until harvest.
• "After discussions with the BLRAwe are confident Moddus will be approved," says Novartis marketing manager Andy Watt. Timing restrictions are not expected. Moddus does best from early treatment anyway, he adds. The list is out later this month.
Results from the Continent show that in 1995 it was more effective against net blotch than flusilazole (in Punch C) or propiconazole (eg Radar). When applied at growth stage 32 in company trials in Hampshire its eradicant activity provided a significant reduction in infection levels and a worthwhile yield improvement, BASF adds.
Agreeing on the need for full approval of pesticides are (left to right) grain merchant Michael Banks, BASFs Graham Jenner and Banks of Sandy agronomist Bob Mills. Opus fungicide has BLRA approval for 1997 – a decision on Moddus is awaited.
• Opus wins BLRA approval for use on malting barley crops.
• Decision on Moddus not yet taken – check with merchants in March.
• Concerns centre on brewing process, not human health.