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September 2009

Serenade® ASO - Review of the first season's performance

In early September representatives from AgraQuest (the international company that developed Serenade ASO) visited soft fruit growers with Fargro to assess the effectiveness of Serenade ASO and answer any grower queries. Fargro's Jim McAlpine reports:

Serenade ASO is the first biological fungicide approved by the Chemicals Regulatory Directorate for foliar application to crops in the UK. The product was launched in March 2009 and it was essential to gain feedback from the users in this first season

E. C. Drummond

We are at Drummond's Nursery on a cool cloudy day to meet Simon Boucher, the Production Manager.

Frequent cloudy conditions have concerned growers as they have affected average light levels this season. This is just one more problem that growers have to face in maximising yields from tunnel crops.

Looking over Drummonds 240 acres of strawberry crops, one has to be impressed at the scale and the healthy state of the crop. The variety Jubilee has performed well this year. We ask how Serenade ASO is performing; "great" says Simon, "very impressive". We turn to see the tractor spraying down the rows of strawberries and are told a spray of Serenade ASO is just being applied. Excellent we say, beautifully timed. Drummonds are clearly enthused about Serenade ASO and intend to make it a key product in their fight against disease. Drummonds are a KG grower and work with Dennis Wilson as their advisor on all crop issues.

We then walk over to the vast area of tunnel clad crops where Serenade ASO has been used regularly this season against Botrytis. Other than a few mummified fruits we observe that the crop is looking good with a very low incidence of Botrytis and Simon is pleased.

With regular spraying at 14 day intervals, in line with the advice of his agronomist Drummonds are committed to continue to work with Serenade ASO.

Withers Fruit Farm

It is pleasing on the eye to see large swathes of blueberries on the hillside at Withers Fruit Farm in Hereford. Charles Tager, Production Manager takes us through the protected cropping area to arrive at a blueberry crop under tunnels. The crop is looking superb, with Serenade ASO being used under the SOLA. Charles is very interested in developing Serenade ASO over a greater area as the first results look promising.

Charles then takes us on to an excellent stand of table top Elsanta strawberries that have been sprayed with Serenade ASO. "I am very interested in its mildew control possibilities" said Charles. We tell him that growers in Kent are working Serenade ASO into a spray programme, observing mildew control.

H. Savidge (Woodfield Farm)

Next stop is Woodfield Farm where Andrew Roberts, Production Manager is clearly enthusiastic about Serenade ASO's activity on Cladosporium. This is the main problem on his raspberry crop, and in spraying for Botrytis Andrew has found excellent control of Cladosporium. High levels of nectar and pollen are characteristic of new varieties and that coupled with high turgor pressure in the plant leads to sugar secretions on which the Cladosporium takes hold.

Serenade ASO sprayed every 7-10 days with air assisted sprayers at 10 litres/ha has produced excellent results.

At an expected yield of between 1-2 tonnes per day it is essential to get the highest quality results from his crop. He is careful to avoid excessive vegetative soft growth as this will prevent effective spray coverage on flowers and fruiting canes hidden in the crop.
Summary: We are very much encouraged by the comments made by our growers and will publish more information as we receive further details on performance.

Serenade® ASO is a suspension concentrate containing 13.96 g/l Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713 (a minimum of 1.042 x 1012 cfu/l). | Serenade is a trade mark of Agraquest