This article was originally published on the NZ Herald 

Specialist product manufacturer Grochem, a horticultural industry consortium has discovered a new “greener” control for a kiwifruit disease.

Specialist product manufacturer Grochem, HortResearch, Amberley Management Services and Technology New Zealand spent three years and about $250,000 developing a biological control agent for the disease sclerotinia.
Sclerotinia infects flowers, preventing the fruit developing.

Grochem project manager Iain Latter said the new control could replace a chemical fungicide.
He said the commercial harnessing of a naturally occurring biological fungal agent to fight sclerotinia would change the industry.

“There’s huge pressure on exporters … to have zero chemical residues and New Zealand has been leading the world in terms of reducing our chemistry use that actually goes on fruit.”

With prospects for commercial sale abroad for a range of crops the new agent, called Epicure, may itself become an export earner.

Latter said the support of Technology New Zealand, which provided a $175,000 grant, was essential.

“We’re a rapidly growing New Zealand company but without that assistance this wouldn’t have occurred because the development of BCAs is a reasonably risky project and our resources are limited.”

Early test results show Epicure is as effective as current fungicides with comparable costs.
Grochem will register Epicure for commercial use next season.

An innovative application method may see the humble bee enlisted as an alternative to high-volume spraying.

The idea is to introduce Epicure to bees as they enter and leave the hive.