Rhizoctonia solani is a pathogen which causes yield sapping stem and stolon cankers and unsightly skin blemishes and it is essential to control it in potatoes destined for fresh, seed and processing sectors. It can cause 30% yield loss and skin blemishes, irregularly shaped and different sized tubers making marketable losses even bigger. It must be controlled but just recently an important fungicide for seed, pencycuron, has been withdrawn from the UK market because of uncertain regulatory issues to do with MRLs (Maximum Residue levels). Another fungicide has had application issues, being particularly aggressive on equipment and prone to blocking nozzles. Potato growers need to think about what options they have to fill these gaps in the market. Whatever they do, they must choose a treatment that will bring value and if that can be done easily, through ‘smooth-flow’ technology, so much the better.
Two years ago BASF launched the first SDHI fungicide for in-furrow treatment for Rhizoctonia solani in potatoes. Based on Xemium (fluxapyroxad), ALLSTAR showed excellent efficacy in development trials to produce more marketable, brighter and more uniform potatoes with fewer skin blemishes than the more traditional in-furrow fungicide. It is a much kinder product resulting in emergence that is very even and can be quicker than other fungicide treatments.
BASF potato specialist, Paul Goddard points out that ALLSTAR is applied at 0.8 l/hectare in the furrow. He describes it as “an advanced new SC formulation, which can be applied through all commercial in furrow applicators, without the need or expense of additional equipment. The product has been designed to go through all applicators with no need to purchase additional equipment or modify existing equipment to get the best from the product. It is an easy to use modern SC formulation with ‘smooth-flow’ characteristics. Being very stable in dilution, the option to place ALLSTAR into the water tank is new to most and the easiest way to use the product.”
Whilst there is no need to use the Dosatron, this option is still available to growers. The kind formulation is sympathetic to crop and equipment alike. The ‘smooth-flow’ characteristics make ALLSTAR much less abrasive and the potential for nozzle blockages is substantially reduced.
Paul explains that ALLSTAR has been tested “to extremes” at different concentrations, pressures and water volumes through a Team Compact 120 sprayer, which had no modifications and he failed to get the product to cause any blockages. “Applying an effective fungicide in the furrow, you want no problems with application. You do not want the planting process interrupted in any way, or the application to be compromised; even with flow sensors on nozzles it is possible for output to be reduced without knowing. ALLSTAR is such a great, modern formulation, that as conditions allow you to plant, ALLSTAR will always be working with you and your equipment. It is easy to use and anything that is easy to do will be done to the best it can be more often,” he says.
In addition to ALLSTAR’s advanced formulation, this year BASF are using state of the art remote sensing technology from Hummingbird Technology to look at crop emergence and growth of potato crops in the field and in trial plots. Hummingbird Technologies are regarded as world leaders in data collection and image analytics. They use fixed wing and multirotor drones with the latest multispectral and hyperspectral sensors and for BASF they will be measuring the increased evenness of the crop plus the better development of the canopy in crops treated with ALLSTAR.
“Rhizoctonia affects sprouts, stolons and stems so effective disease control gives a more even crop. ALLSTAR is very kind to the crop, which allows the crop to emerge quickly and evenly. In addition to effectiveness, ALLSTAR does not impose the challenges to the growing crop, which other treatments might do,” Paul points out.
“Even crop emergence means creating more leaf, more photosynthetic area and resulting in a higher potential yield. An even crop is an easier crop to manage. It helps with applying herbicides and irrigation timely as well as with easier burn-down strategies at the end of the season,” says Paul.
“Hummingbird Technologies uses high resolution aerial imagery to provide more precise figures behind what we have already observed in the field and in trials to benchmark ALLSTAR against other in-furrow fungicides. Every 3 to 5 days following 25% crop emergence, it will be providing plant counts, emergence and canopy data. It is exciting to be able to use such amazing technology,” says Paul Goddard.