Total Eclipse

Published in the January 2012 Issue Published online: Jan 19, 2012 Tyler J. Baum
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Bayer CropScience announced in October the results of new research related to the efficacy of its Luna series of fungicides, expected to be available for use in 2012.

"With more than 1,200 Luna trials in the U.S. alone, research shows that Luna's unique chemistry and systemic mode of action will provide excellent control of some of the most problematic fungal diseases," says Herb Young, product manager for Bayer CropScience. "This will help growers deliver the best possible fruits, nuts and vegetables to consumers."

The active ingredient in Luna belongs to a new chemical class known as pyramides and differs from all other SDHI fungicides. Luna's systemic manner of working enables continuous uptake through the leaf, stem and root tissue following application, providing crop protection beyond the initial spray.

Luna's application for registration with the U.S. EPA is pending as of press time on a variety of crops, including potatoes.

Disease Tranquility

Young introduced the fungicide to a group of growers and industry reps at a field trial at Miller Research in Acequia, Idaho, in August. As of the field trial, Luna was 10 years in development.

"This is the conclusion of a long process for us," he says.

Luna Tranquility is the Luna line specifically designed for potatoes and works through fumigation. Whereas Bayer CropScience's Movento insecticide is systemic downward, Luna is actually systemic upward.

"Even at the soil, the root uptake is fantastic," he says. "You can actually move it back up through the stem where white mold is going to be. So it's a neat way of reaching it."

This systemic activity for Bayer is a breakthrough, according to Young, in that not only are they seeing healthier plants, but they're also seeing promising data on the effects in storage.

While alternaria soleni-early blight-is developing a resistance to other chemistries, Luna has essentially overcome any resistance.

"At this point in time," he says, "This is the next generation of products that doesn't have any of the resistance issues."

Dr. Jeff Miller of Miller Research says they've been testing Luna Tranquility on some of their test plots, and the product's primary strength in southern Idaho is control of early blight, brown leaf spot and white mold on potatoes. The control so far has been outstanding.

"When you have a new product that outperforms the No. 1 product already on the market, that, in my mind, is something worth getting excited about," he says.

He points out that BASF's Endura and Bayer's Luna Tranquility are pretty similar in their control of white mold. While many other products are acceptable in their control, Luna Tranquility is outperforming all other products with early blight and brown leaf spot.

"Most of our potato growers want to have a product they can use that will manage multiple diseases," he says. "Luna Tranquility fits that probably better than any other product that's going to be available next year. In fairness, there were other programs that provided acceptable control, but Luna ranked the best. It had the least amount of disease."

Miller points out that Luna is a mixture of two active ingredients that fight against early blight, which means there is some level of resistance management already built into the product. However, he stresses to growers that once Luna is released, following the label is going to be very important. Some growers have been known to only apply a single product on their potatoes all season, going against product labels and causing resistance issues in the future.

Miller adds that Luna is not active against late blight. He recalls the last time seeing late blight in the Rupert/Acequia area two years ago, a certain grower had only used one fungicide.

"They had really good control of early blight and white mold, but when the late blight came, they had no protection. That's why they got burnt, whereas their neighbor had been on a similar program, but they had used some other product with late blight activity; they did not have the same problems."

Miller Research recommends tank mixing with a low rate of a protectant in order to get some late blight protection.

"I still think there's going to be value in looking at either a tank mix with a protectant or at least rotating with other chemistries. For sure, we're not going to want to put more than two Luna Tranquility applications in a row."