May 4, 2015, Regina, Sask – FMC Agricultural Solutions recently launched Fracture fungicide, a new broad spectrum biological fungicide labeled for the prevention and control of powdery mildew and botrytis on grapes, strawberries and tomatoes and blossom blight in stone fruits.

Fracture fungicide introduces a novel active ingredient that is a naturally occurring polypeptide protein derived from germinating sweet lupine.

“Since announcing Biosolutions as a strategic initiative for FMC, we have been working hard to find the right truly biological source to launch this division in Canada,” said Mark McMillan, FMC business manager for Eastern Canada. “We feel that Fracture fungicide will be a strong asset in the fungicide market, both among biological and traditional fungicides.“

Fracture fungicide also introduces a new mode of action to disease management, providing multi-site control.  

“We are excited to be able to offer this innovative technology to the Canadian grower,” said David Strilchuk, Canadian manager with FMC. “FMC prides itself on being a leader in bringing solutions to growers, both in traditional chemistry and biological options. Fracture adds another tool for growers in their fight against disease and resistance.”

Fracture will be distributed by UAP.

Published in Provinces


Baking ingredients may offer a way to bolster the effectiveness of Cydia pomonella granulovirus(CpGV) – a natural insect pathogen being developed to kill codling moth larvae.

Studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their Swedish colleagues show adding two feeding stimulants – brewer’s yeast and brown sugar – to spray formulations can increase the pests’ contact with the lethal insect virus.

The scientists’ investigations are part of broader research to incorporate novel ingredients to improve CpGV’s performance as a biobased alternative to broad-spectrum insecticides.

Currently, CpGV is used on more than 370,000 acres of apples worldwide. But its effectiveness as a bioinsecticide can be diminished by exposure to ultra-violet light and by the larvae’s tendency to burrow into fruit to feed shortly after hatching, says entomologist Alan Knight, at ARS’s Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research Unit in Wapato, Wash.

In two years of field trials, the addition of sugar and brewer’s yeast to sprays of CpGV killed more larvae (83 per cent) than virus-only formulations (55 per cent) and water-only controls (17 per cent). The treatments also reduced feeding injury to the apples in one of the two test years, Knight notes.

Sugar/virus combinations were less effective than yeast/virus combinations, which, in turn, were less effective than virus/yeast/sugar formulations.

Knight and Peter Witzgall, a professor of chemical ecology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp, Sweden, came up with the yeast/sugar approach based on earlier findings that wild yeasts are important to larval health and survival. They found that some of the natural yeasts present on apple surfaces also grow in larval tunnels where they provide nutrition to the insect’s diet and prevent molds from growing.

The researchers are evaluating other natural ingredients to make the virus more effective. These include feeding stimulants, such as pear ester; unpasteurized corn steep liquor; and some wild yeast species, including Metschnikowia pulcherrima and Cryptococcus tephrensis.

The virus is harmless to non-host insects, fish, wildlife, livestock, pets, and humans.




Published in Research


John Lewis, a berry crops specialist with Perennia, recently reported recovery from Nova Scotia’s strawberry virus epidemic is now ahead of schedule and a normal crop is expected in 2015.

Speaking at the 2015 Scotia Hort Congress, Lewis was at pains to note the two viruses – strawberry mild yellow edge and strawberry mottle virus, which have plagued the province’s berry growers since 2013 – did not combine or mutate as reported in several media articles. Instead, when plants were infected by both viruses, there was an added synergistic effect, causing more problems in the plants than would have been caused by each virus on its own.

“We have always operated under the premise that the plants are unaffected by a single virus infection and it is only when there are two or more that the plant is compromised,” Lewis said.

Virus effects vary from strawberry cultivar to cultivar and the infection duration also seemed to play a role, “but these variables are only now being figured out,” Lewis said. “The effects of the mixed infection is sometimes referred to as a strawberry decline disease and I think that is a good general description.”

It has been suggested that the disease started in 2012 in nursery plants and moved to the fresh fruit crop in 2013, but Lewis disagreed. “There is no evidence of a sudden arrival of either virus,” he said. “It is probable that a slow increase from base levels in the environment, likely in wild strawberries, facilitated by sustained favourable weather, led to the outbreaks in 2012 and 2013.”

About 50 per cent of 2013’s fresh fruit crop was lost due to combined acreage reduction (crop destruction by growers) and virus impacts on yield and fruit quality. The resulting smaller berry crop in 2014 was mostly due to the reduced crop acreage associated with the aggressive crop destruction in 2013 and the spring of 2014.

Lewis believes the crop acreage should be back to normal this year and he expects a normal crop yield, “with respect to viruses, even though we are still measuring modest levels.”

Two virus-testing surveys were done in 2013, the first to determine the distribution of the two viruses around Nova Scotia and the second in late summer to ascertain the level of infection in newly planted fields. In some cases, it was recommended to remove some newly planted fields for virus controls, said Lewis.

A virus infection survey was also done in the fall and spring of 2014 of all newly planted commercial fields. According to Lewis, levels of the two viruses in the 2014 survey had dropped to 15 per cent for strawberry mild yellow edge and two per cent for the strawberry mottle virus.

“Considering that both viruses are required to cause decline disease, we know from these numbers that we can have no more than two per cent disease. For this reason, coupled with acreage recovery, I am predicting a normal crop in 2015, at least with respect to virus effects.”

Aphids are known to spread the viruses and Lewis stressed the industry still needed to be vigilant.

“If you have a bad aphid year, everything will go right back up and we will be back in the same boat.”

This means growers will need to carefully manage aphids throughout 2015, he said, adding aphid populations will be measured again in the fall.

“We can then, hopefully, take our foot off the gas next year.”

Lewis attributed the Nova Scotia strawberry industry’s quick recovery, in part, to its small size [relative to other provinces]. He added the active participation of growers, who destroyed more than 150 acres of strawberry plants to eradicate the infection, worked to solve the problem.

A federal-provincial strawberry assistance program also facilitated the removal and replanting of infected fields, Lewis said, and the availability of virus-tested stock from local nurseries ensured that newly planted fields would be disease free.

A strategy has now evolved involving aggressive removal of infected fields, followed by replanting with virus-tested stock, Lewis said. This program is being assisted by aphid monitoring, which was started in 2013.

Lewis believes the two viruses are in Nova Scotia to stay. Their combined level needs to be reduced below five per cent before crop production and field management can return to normal levels, he explained.




Published in Research

April 20, 2015, Guelph, Ont – The Stockton Group, a plant extract-based crop protection innovator, recently announced the signing of a distribution agreement with Engage Agro. Under the agreement, Engage Agro will exclusively market and distribute Timorex Gold biofungicide in Canada for fruit, vegetable and specialty crops.

Timorex Gold will complement Engage Agro's portfolio, providing their customers with a new tool for disease resistance management with a product that leaves no residues in the harvested produce. Growers in Canada will now benefit from Timorex Gold's multi-mode of action, which boosts plants' natural immune defenses to control fungal and bacterial diseases.

"This sets another important milestone for Timorex Gold,” said Ziv Tirosh, CEO of Stockton Group. “We are excited about our relationship with such a well-respected partner as Engage Agro to distribute and market our flagship biofungicide, Timorex Gold. Partnerships like this are key for Stockton as we rapidly expand into global markets."

"Engage Agro is looking forward to helping growers discover the many benefits of using Timorex Gold biofungicide within their current management practices," said Michael Brazeau, business development and supplier relations manager with Engage Agro.

According to the companies, Timorex Gold provides growers with an effective pest management tool that reduces stressful conditions occurring during the various stages of infectious diseases in crops, and reduces the chemical load resulting from the application of conventional products. It may be used in tank mixes, in program rotation and as a stand-alone product.

On August 2014, Timorex Gold was declared compliant and approved by ECOCERT Canada's input approbation program against the National Standard of Canada on Organic Production Systems and Permitted Substances Lists (CAN/CGSB 32.310-2006 and CAN/CGSB 32.311-2006) as a Crop Protection Aid in organic production, allowed for pest control.

Published in Provinces

April 15, 2015, Calgary, Alta – Canadian blueberry growers can now control key diseases with Quash fungicide and access the Japanese export market, with the recent approval of Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) for Quash.

Japan is the second largest export market for Canadian-grown blueberries, after the United States.

Quash (metconazole) is a Group 3 fungicide that delivers preventative and curative control of mummy berry and anthracnose, and suppression of phomopsis in blueberries.

“Quash controls the most devastating diseases affecting Canadian blueberries,” said Sabrina Bladon, eastern marketing manager for Nufarm Agriculture Inc. “Before this Japanese MRL approval, growers using Quash to protect blueberry yields from mummy berry, anthracnose and phomopsis were limited to North American markets. They now have the opportunity to work with their processor to access the significant Japanese export market.”

As part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, Quash delivers broad-spectrum disease control of diseases in one rate. Quash provides good residual activity, protecting blueberries during the entire infection period. Quash is also registered for use on a range of crops including potatoes and canola.

For more information, consult the complete product label at

Published in Provinces

April 6, 2015, Calgary, Alta – Canadian organic horticultural growers have a new copper hydroxide available for use in vegetable production.

Parasol WG is now compliant with Canadian Organic Standards. All product manufactured after 2013 contains only substances that appear on the Organic Production Systems Permitted Substances Lists and is suitable for use in organic agriculture.

Parasol WG is a wettable granular formulation of copper hydroxide used to control various fungal diseases in beans (dry and edible), potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and sugar beets. An easy-to-use, dust-free formulation, Parasol WG controls Bacterial Spot, Cercospora Leaf Blight, Common Bacterial Blight, Early and Late Blight, and Halo Bacterial Blight.

“Parasol WG offers an important management tool in organic operations when cultural practices alone aren’t enough to control fungal diseases,” says Sabrina Bladon, Eastern marketing manager with Nufarm Agriculture Inc.

Parasol WG is now certified by Pro-Cert, providing professional organic certification to the Canadian Organic Standard and Products Regulation (COR). All newly certified product can be clearly identified by date of manufacture (2014 and later) and lot number (beginning with 14) located at the base of the 10 kg paper bag of Parasol WG.

Published in Provinces


Scientists and gardeners alike study and examine plants for outward signs of damage caused by disease and insects. Often, this damage takes the shape of areas chewed by insects that are easily observed.

However, much of the important responses plants make to insect bites take place out of sight. In one of the broadest studies of its kind, scientists at the University of Missouri recently studied how plant genes responded to insects that harm them. They found that plants can recognize attacks from diverse kinds of insects, such as caterpillars and aphids, and that plants respond differently to each attack. Identifying these defense genes could allow plant breeders to target specific insect species when developing pest-resistant crops.

“It was no surprise that plants responded differently to having their leaves chewed by a caterpillar or sucked by an aphid,” said Heidi Appel, senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri and lead author on the paper. “What surprised us was how different plant responses were to each of the caterpillars and aphids. The plants could clearly tell insects apart – they really seem to ‘know’ who’s attacking.”

Results showed that Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard, recognizes and responds differently to four insect species. Two caterpillar species were placed on the plants and encouraged to chew on their leaves. Researchers also allowed two species of aphids, or small insects that pierce plants with needle-like mouthparts, to attack the plants. Then those plants were examined on the genetic level to gauge their responses.

The team, which also included scientists from the University of British Columbia and The Pennsylvania State University, found that plants responded differently to both species of caterpillars and both types of aphids and determined  that plants had different genetic responses in all four cases. Additionally, insects caused changes on the signaling level that triggered genes to switch on and off helping defend plants against further attacks.

“There are 28,000 genes in the plant, and we detected 2,778 genes responding to attacks depending on the type of insect,” said Jack Schultz, director of the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri and a co-author on the study. “If you only look at a few of these genes, you get a very limited picture and possibly one that doesn’t represent what’s going on at all. Turning on defense genes only when needed is less costly to the plant because all of its defenses don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time.”

A sister study, led by Erin Rehrig, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri at the time of publication, showed that attacks by both caterpillars and beet armyworms increased plant hormones that trigger defense responses. However, plants responded quicker and more strongly when fed on by the beet armyworm compared to the cabbage butterfly caterpillar indicating again that plants can tell the two insects apart.

“Among the genes changed when insects bite are ones that regulate processes like root growth, water use and other ecologically significant processes that plants carefully monitor and control,” Schultz said. “Questions about the cost to the plant if the insect continues to eat would be an interesting follow-up study to explore these deeper genetic interactions.”

The study, Transcriptional responses of Arabidopsis thaliana to chewing and sucking insect herbivores, and its sister study, Roles for jasmonate- and ethylene-induced transcription factors in the ability of Arabidopsis to respond differentially to damage caused by two insect herbivores, were published in Frontiers in Plant Science and funding was provided by the National Science Foundation.




Published in Insects

March 11, 2015, Guelph, Ont – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of several URMULE registrations for Purespray Green Spray Oil 13E for management of several important pests of apples, greenhouse vegetables, berries, field-grown fruiting vegetables and cucurbit vegetables, tree nuts and hops in Canada.

Purespray Green Spray Oil 13E was already labeled for management of a number of pests on a several crops in Canada.

These minor use projects were submitted by British Columbia and Ontario as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel in Canada. Management of these pests on these crops has been a priority of both organic and conventional producers.

The following is provided as an abbreviated, general outline only. Users should consult the complete label before using Purespray Green Spray Oil 13E.

Purespray Green Spray Oil 13E can be used for control, suppress or deter several additional pests on a number of crops, including:

  • Suppression of powdery mildew and spider mites on field-grown fruiting vegetables
  • Suppression of powdery mildew and spider mites on field-grown cucurbit vegetables

Purespray Green Spray Oil 13E should be used in an integrated pest management program and in rotation with other management strategies to adequately manage resistance. Purespray Green Spray Oil 13E is toxic to aquatic organisms. Do not contaminate aquatic habitats when spraying or when cleaning and rinsing spray equipment or containers.

Purespray Green Spray Oil 13E can be used in organic production systems, however producers are advised to consult with their organic certifying body.

For a copy of the new minor use label contact your local crop specialist, regional supply outlet or visit the PMRA label site

Published in Insects

March 11, 2015, Guelph, Ont – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of several URMULE registrations for Vivando Fungicide for control/suppression of powdery mildew on fruiting vegetables, cucurbits, hops, cherries, nectarines and peaches in Canada.

Vivando Fungicide was already labeled for management of powdery mildew on grapes in Canada.

These minor use projects were submitted jointly by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada’s Pest Management Centre (AAFC-PMC) and US IR-4 as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel in Canada and the US. Management of powdery mildews has been a priority of producers of many crops.

The following is provided as an abbreviated, general outline only. Users should consult the complete label before using Vivando Fungicide.

Vivando Fungicide can be used for control or suppression of powdery mildew on the a number of crops, including fruiting vegetables and cucurbits.

Vivando Fungicide should be used in an integrated pest management program and in rotation with other management strategies to adequately manage resistance. Vivando Fungicide is toxic to aquatic organisms and non-target terrestrial plants. Do not contaminate aquatic habitats when spraying or when cleaning and rinsing spray equipment or containers. Metrafenone is persistent and may carryover. It is recommended that any products containing metrafenone not be used in areas treated with this product during the previous season.

For a copy of the new minor use label contact your local crop specialist, regional supply outlet or visit the PMRA label site

Published in Insects

March 2, 2015 – Gowan Agro Canada recently announced that Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) has been added to the Imidan 70WP Instapak Canadian label.

This new registration allows apple, blueberry, tart cherry, grape, peach, pear and plum growers to maintain their fruit quality by protecting against SWD damage. Damage is caused when SWD females lay their eggs inside intact fruit before it can be harvested. SWD larvae hatch, begin to feed and the affected fruit becomes soft and unmarketable.

Gowan Company has had SWD on its U.S. Imidan label for the past few seasons and it’s proven to be a valuable tool in the fight against SWD.

“Spotted Wing Drosophila is a new pest in Canada and even though Imidan is a mature product, fruit growers asked us to add SWD to the label because they needed help to control this insect,” said Garth Render, general manager of Gowan Agro Canada. “Staying true to its roots, the Gowan Company responded to customer needs, investing resources to add SWD to the Canadian label for this relatively small market.”

Imidan 70WP is a broad-spectrum organophosphate and contains a Group 1B insecticide. It controls a number of different insects in many fruit crops.

Published in Insects

February 23, 2015, Guelph, Ont – Syngenta Canada Inc. is pleased to announce the release of Agri‑Mek SC, a new miticide-insecticide formulation for use on speciality and horticulture crops, including apples, grapes, potatoes and onions.

Agri‑Mek SC provides control of several species of economically significant mites and insects, as well as onion thrips.

“Agri‑Mek SC represents an improved standard for mite and insect control,” says Eric Phillips, product lead for fungicides and insecticides for Syngenta Canada. “Growers using the product can benefit from the concentrated formulation, which is effective at lower use rates and requires less product handling.”

Agri‑Mek SC is a Group 6 insecticide powered by the active ingredient abamectin. The translaminar activity of abamectin allows it to be absorbed rapidly, forming a reservoir of active ingredient within the leaf to provide residual control against mites and insects.

Agri‑Mek SC is also tank-mix compatible with many other commonly used crop protection products. Agri-Mek SC may be applied by ground or airblast at the first signs of pest presence.

For more information about Agri‑Mek SC, please contact your local Syngenta Representative, visit the Agri‑Mek SC product page on or contact our Customer Resource Centre at 1‑87‑SYNGENTA (1‑877‑964‑3682).

Published in Insects

February 12, 2015, Mississauga, Ont – BASF Canada Inc. (BASF) has been granted a label expansion for Vivando fungicide to include control of powdery mildew on pome fruit, fruiting vegetables, hops, cucurbits, peaches and cherries in addition to grapes.

As the only Group U8 fungicide on the market, Vivando offers growers powdery mildew control, even in crops where resistance or tolerance to other chemistries is a concern.

“Vivando is an excellent tool for Powdery mildew control in all of these newly-labelled crops,” says Scott Hodgins, brand manager for horticultural products with BASF. “We’re particularly pleased to provide growers with new chemistry that will help them to address resistance management concerns.”

Vivando uses vapour activity to provide thorough protection of both fruit and foliage, even with dense crop canopies or tightly-set fruit.

Vivando has been used in grapes across Canada and the U.S. since 2011. In addition to grapes, Vivando is now registered for use on cherry Subgroup 12-09A, cucurbits Group 9, peach Subgroup 12-09B, hops, fruiting vegetables, grapes and pome fruit.

BASF recognizes all those associated with the Minor Use Pesticide Program for their contributions in bringing this expanded registration to Canadian fruit and vegetable growers.

For more information about Vivando fungicide, visit or contact your retailer.

Published in Provinces

February 12, 2015, Mississauga, Ont – BASF Canada Inc. (BASF) has been granted a new label expansion for Pristine fungicide for control of bitter rot and black rot in the pome fruit group.

Previously registered for control of scab, powdery mildew, flyspeck, sooty blotch and brooks spot in pome as well as a number of other key diseases in fruit and vegetable crops, Pristine uses both Group 7 and Group 11 active ingredients to provide broad-spectrum disease control.

Pristine also provides growers with the benefits of AgCelence, which may increase growth efficiency and tolerance to minor environmental stress.

For more information about Pristine fungicide, visit or contact your retailer.

Published in Diseases

January 6, 2015, Guelph, Ont – Syngenta Canada Inc. recently announced that Bravo ZN, a fungicide used by many potato growers, has received registration for use on 30 new crops including pulses, fruiting vegetables, cucurbit vegetables, blueberries, onions and ginseng.

“Bravo ZN is widely used by potato growers to control in-season disease pressure,” says Eric Phillips, product lead for fungicides and insecticides with Syngenta Canada. “Now, growers can realize the same disease control across a broad range of crops, thanks to the recent label expansion of Bravo ZN fungicide.”

Bravo ZN is a broad-spectrum, contact fungicide powered by the active ingredient chlorothalonil, which offers protection against several damaging diseases. It also includes WeatherStik technology, a patented surfactant from Syngenta, which maximizes the product’s rainfastness.

Use rates, application interval days and pre-harvest intervals vary by crop. Growers should consult the product label prior to application.

For more information about Bravo ZN fungicide, please contact your local Syngenta representative, visit the Bravo ZN product page on or contact the Customer Resource Centre at 1‑87‑SYNGENTA (1‑877‑964‑3682).

Published in Provinces

December 3, 2014, Guelph, Ont – Syngenta Canada Inc. recently announced the label expansion of Quilt foliar fungicide to provide blueberry growers across Canada with a new option for control and suppression of a number of diseases affecting production of this crop.

“The expansion of the Quilt fungicide registration to include both lowbush and highbush blueberries is good news for growers looking to address diseases that can negatively affect quality and yield,” says Eric Phillips, product lead for fungicides and insecticides with Syngenta Canada. “Lowbush blueberry growers can use it in both the sprout year – to control rust (Thekopsora minima) and suppress Septoria and Valdensinia – and in the fruiting year, to control Monilinia blight (Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi) and anthracnose. Growers of highbush blueberries will also find Quilt to be an effective tool in the control of mummy berry and anthracnose.”

Quilt fungicide combines two active ingredients, azoxystrobin (Group 11) and propiconazole (Group 3). Together, they deliver both systemic and curative properties, as well as support an effective resistance management strategy. Quilt moves within the plant and is distributed within the leaves, protecting the plant as it grows, not just at the points of contact.

Quilt is available to blueberry growers in case and tote packaging options.

For more information about Quilt fungicide, please contact your local Syngenta representative, visit the Quilt product page on or contact the Customer Resource Centre at 1‑87‑SYNGENTA (1‑877‑964‑3682).

Published in Provinces

November 25, 2014, Toronto, Ont – Ontario is taking action to strengthen bird, bee, butterfly and other pollinator health to ensure healthy ecosystems, a productive agricultural sector, and a strong economy.

Pollinators play an important role in Ontario's agricultural productivity. Crops such as apples, cherries, peaches, plums, cucumbers, asparagus, squash, pumpkins, and melons need help from pollinators to grow.

The federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency has found a link between planting corn and soybean seeds treated with neonicotinoids and bee deaths in Ontario. The province's approach will help keep crops healthy and improve the environment by:

  • Working towards a goal of 80 per cent reduction in the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 2017
  • Reducing the over-winter honeybee mortality rate to 15 per cent by 2020
  • Establishing a comprehensive Pollinator Health Action Plan

“Improving pollinator health is not a luxury but a necessity,” said Glen R. Murray, minister of the Environment and Climate Change. “Pollinators play a key role in our ecosystem and without them, much of the food we eat would not be here.Taking strong action now to reduce the use of neurotoxic pesticides and protecting pollinator health is a positive step for our environment and our economy.”

“Our agricultural industry depends on safe, healthy lands to be productive,” added Jeff Leal, minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “This is why Ontario farmers have taken significant action to reduce pesticide use, reducing overall usage by some 45 per cent in the past three decades. We know there is more that can be done, and we will work with farmers to protect the environment and grow the agricultural sector.”

The province will consult on a proposal to reduce the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed. If approved, new rules on the use of neonicotinoids will be in place by July 1, 2015, in time for the 2016 agricultural planting season.

Ontario has released a discussion paper on pollinator health for comment over 60 days on Ontario’s Environmental and Regulatory Registries. Consultation sessions will be held in December 2014 and January 2015 to seek input from industry, researchers, organizations and individuals.

Published in Insects


Plant breeders have long identified and cultivated disease-resistant varieties. A research team at the University of California, Riverside has now revealed a new molecular mechanism for resistance and susceptibility to a common fungus that causes wilt in susceptible tomato plants.

The study results appeared Oct. 16 in PLOS Pathogens.

Katherine Borkovich, a professor of plant pathology and the chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, and colleagues started with two closely related tomato cultivars: Moneymaker is susceptible to the wilting fungus Fusarium oxysporum whereas Motelle is resistant. In their search for what makes the two different, the researchers focused on microRNAs, small molecules that act by regulating the expression of a variety of genes, including genes involved in
plant immunity.

They treated roots from the two cultivars with water or with a solution containing F. oxysporum and looked for microRNAs that were increased in response to the fungus in Moneymaker (where they would inhibit resistance genes) or decreased in Motelle (where they would allow expression of resistance genes). They identified two candidate microRNAs whose levels went down in Motelle after treatment with the fungus.

Because microRNAs inhibit their targets by binding to them, computer searches can find target genes with complementary sequences. Such a search for targets of the two microRNAs identified four candidates in the tomato genome, and all four resembled known plant resistance genes.

“When we compared the levels of the four potential targets in the two cultivars after exposure to the fungus, we found that all four were up-regulated in response to F. oxysporum – but only in Motelle; the levels in Moneymaker were unchanged,” said Borkovich, the corresponding author of the study.

To test whether up-regulation of the target genes was indeed what made Motelle resistant, Borkovich and her colleagues employed a virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) system that can down-regulate specific genes in tomato. After exposure to F. oxysporum, disease symptoms, including leaf wilting, were seen in VIGS Motelle plants that silenced any one of the four genes. Although the symptoms were not as severe as in Moneymaker plants, this suggested that all four targets contribute to resistance.

“Taken together,” Borkovich and her co-authors conclude, “our findings suggest that Moneymaker is highly susceptible, because its potential resistance is insufficiently expressed due to the action of microRNAs.” Moreover, “because the four identified targets are different from the only known resistance gene for F. oxysporum in tomato,” they say, “there is much to learn about the immune response to an important pathogen family that infects numerous crop plants.”

Borkovich was joined in the research by Shouqiang Ouyang (first author of the research paper), Gyungsoon Park, Hagop S. Atamian, Jason Stajich and Isgouhi Kaloshian at UC Riverside; and Cliff S. Han at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“Next, we would like to find out if any of the microRNAs we identified are conserved in additional plant species that are infected by other F. oxysporum strains,” Borkovich said. “We are interested, too, in identifying the proteins and genes in the fungus that are important for regulating expression of these microRNAs in one cultivar but not the other.  In other words, what is it about the fungus that the plant is sensing?”

The research was supported by seed funding to Borkovich, Kaloshian and Han from the Los Alamos National Laboratory-UC Riverside Collaborative Program in Infectious Disease. The purpose of the seed project was to explore the molecular basis of plant diseases caused by microorganisms.




Published in Research


University of Adelaide researchers are introducing a method to use bees to deliver disease control to cherry blossoms, preventing brown rot in cherries.

This is a new technique for Australia and a world first for cherry orchards with potential application in many horticultural industries. It was demonstrated publicly for the first time during a field day in September hosted by the Cherry Growers of South Australia and researchers at Lennane Orchards,

“Brown rot is caused by a fungus which significantly impacts Australia’s cherry industry through costs of applying fungicide, yield loss and fruit spoilage,” says project leader  Dr. Katja Hogendoorn, a postdoctoral research associate with the University of Adelaide’s School of Agriculture, Food
and Wine.

“All commercial cherry growers spray during flowering to control the later development of cherry brown rot. Instead of spraying fungicide, we’re using bees to deliver a biological control agent right to the flowers where it is needed. This uses an innovative delivery method called entomovectoring.”

The biological control agent contains spores of a parasitic fungus that prevents the fungus causing brown rot from colonizing the flower. Every morning, the cherry grower sprinkles the spores into a specially designed dispenser  fitted in front of the hive. The bees pick up the spores between their body hairs and bring them to the flowers.

“The flying doctors technology is used successfully in Europe to control strawberry grey mould, but it’s the first time for Australia and the first time in cherry orchards anywhere,” Dr. Hogendoorn says, adding the use of bees has many environmental and economic benefits compared to spraying fungicide.

“The bees deliver control on target, every day,” she says. “There is no spray drift or run-off into the environment.”

Dr. Hogendoorn says adoption of the technique will have the additional benefit of building up the number of managed honeybee hives.

With increasing availability of biological control agents, future application of the technology is expected to become available for disease control in almonds, grapes, strawberry, raspberry, apple, pear and stone fruit.




Published in Research


A blend of odours that attracts spotted wing drosophila (SWD) flies has been developed into a new lure product for improved monitoring and control of these tree-fruit and berry pests.

The blend is a combination of four different chemicals found in the aromas of both wine and vinegar. Entomologist Peter Landolt and colleagues from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service and the Oregon Department of Agriculture isolated the chemicals and evaluated them extensively in laboratory and field trials.

Based on those findings, Trécé, Inc., of Adair, Oklahoma, has commercially formulated the compounds into a novel blend and controlled-release lure, which is marketed under the trademark Pherocon SWD, along with a related trap.

“We developed the attractant because farmers and pest managers need improved methods of attracting, monitoring, and managing the fly to prevent severe potential losses of cherries, berries, grapes, and other fruit crops,” says Landolt, who leads the ARS Fruit and Vegetable Insect Research Unit in Wapato, Washington. “The lure’s availability should provide better information to growers who use trap-catch data to make pest-management decisions.” Those decisions include where, when, or whether to spray.

Known scientifically as Drosophila suzukii, SWD is a nonnative species from eastern Asia that was first detected in the United States in 2008. Since then, it has become an established pest of numerous tree-fruit and berry crops in both the eastern and western United States, says Landolt.

If unchecked, female SWD flies deposit their eggs beneath the surface of host fruit. Subsequent larval feeding inside the fruit causes it to soften, bruise, and wrinkle, ruining its marketability.

Capturing drosophila flies with lures containing wine and vinegar isn’t a new approach. But Landolt’s team was first to conduct a top-down examination of which chemical constituents in the aromas of these liquids specifically attract the flies.

Initially, acetic acid in vinegar and ethanol in wine were thought to be the primary attractants. Though important, the two compounds weren’t the only sources of attraction for SWD flies, the researchers found. In extensive testing, they showed that ethanol alone was less attractive than wine, and acetic acid alone was less attractive than vinegar. Similarly, combinations of ethanol and acetic acid were also less attractive to the flies than wine-plus-vinegar blends, which suggested that other constituents were at work. Indeed, in field tests, wine-plus-vinegar captured 10 times more flies than acetic acid-ethanol blends.

Interestingly, combining acetic acid and ethanol with the wine-plus-vinegar blend worked best of all.

In more recent studies, the team showed that SWD prefers certain types of wine and vinegar over others, with Merlot wine and rice vinegar attracting more male and female flies than Chardonnay wines and apple cider vinegar, for example.

Of 20 total Chardonnay and rice-vinegar chemicals the team evaluated, acetoin and methionol triggered the strongest responses in SWD when combined with acetic acid and ethanol.

A third chemical, ethyl lactate, also attracted the flies but was determined unnecessary for optimum attraction. It was ultimately dropped from the final lure formulation, which contains acetoin, methionol, acetic acid, and ethanol. “If one of those is missing, you get significantly lower attraction,” notes Dong Cha, an ARS postdoctoral researcher who, along with Landolt and coauthors, reported the findings in the February 2014 issue of Pest Management


Jan Suszkiw is a writer with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.





Published in Insects

November 4, 2014, Mississauga, Ont – Growers in Eastern Canada now have a new and improved weed management solution for pre-plant and pre-harvest use. BASF recently announced it has received registration from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for Eragon LQ herbicide for the 2015 season.

Eragon LQ delivers weed control in a new liquid formulation for faster fill-up times and improved tank cleanout. Eragon LQ is a unique Group 14 chemistry that uses the active ingredient Kixor to help growers improve their glyphosate burn down in the spring and improve their harvest in the fall. It provides improved control of weeds like lamb’s-quarters and Canada fleabane, including Group 2-, triazine- and glyphosate-resistant weed biotypes.

“We know growers prefer liquid formulations and Eragon LQ is another example of BASF’s commitment to providing growers with the solutions they need to produce the best crop possible,” said Sean Chiki, brand manager for corn and soybean herbicides at BASF Canada. “Eragon LQ has also received registration for pre-harvest weed management applications in cereals. Aside from pre-plant applications, this new use pattern gives growers another application window to manage tough to control weeds, combine cereals more efficiently and control perennials for cleaner fields in the spring.”

For more information about Eragon LQ, visit

Published in Weeds

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