May 14, 2012
Agraquest gets OK to expand use of Serenade Soil fungicide

Agraquest has been given the green light to use its Serenade Soil fungicide for control of Verticillium in California strawberries.

Available in the U.S. for tomatoes, potatoes and melons since 2010, Serenade Soil has proved effective with strawberries, said Sarah Reiter, vice president of marketing, AgroChemicals & Food Value Chain.

Reiter said it’s a timely move, given that methyl bromide is now prohibited in California – and that 85 percent of U.S.-grown strawberries come out of California.

“Methyl bromide for a long time was used … to control soil diseases, insects and weeds,” Reiter said. “Methyl bromide took care of it all.

“Our tool will take care of soil diseases. Our strengths are fungicides and herbicides, not weed control.”

Serenade Soil first attacks soil-dwelling pathogens, building a disease protection zone around the roots. As the seedling grows, the beneficial bacteria in Serenade Soil keep growing and attach to the roots of the plant to expand protection.

“On Friday morning, we got strawberry approval,” Reiter said a few weeks ago. “And by Friday afternoon, growers were already applying it.

“It gives growers a new tool.”

Evaluations of Serenade Soil for its effectiveness on Phytophthora and Fusarium are continuing. Expanded trials will also focus on integrating Serenade Soil with weed and insect control products.

The company also expects its Optiva broad-spectrum fungicide and Bio-Tam soil fungicide to enter the U.S. market this year.

“Bio-Tam will be coming into the market in July,” Reiter said. “It’s been approved by most of the states and the U.S. EPA.

“Optiva has been approved by EPA and is getting state registration now.”

Reiter said the company’s biopesticides are approved for organic use, “but 95 percent of our business is conventional.”

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