Researchers Harry Townley (left) and Glen Tucker inspecting a suSCon Yellow trial in a Far North Queensland banana plantation. This innovative product would resolve several major insect pest issues for Australia s banana growers with one easy granular application at planting covering the crop for three years. After a long period of development and trials, Crop Care has applied for approvaTHREE years’ control of banana weevil borer and suppression of rust thrips have been achieved from a single planting application of controlled-release imidacloprid granules in North Queensland banana trials, conducted by Crop Care.
The planting treatment also controlled greyback cane grubs, and there was no mite flaring in treated crops. Crop Care suSCon (sustained control) products business manager, Kerrie Mackay, said that a submission for registration of this new-generation controlled-release product – suSCon Yellow Intel – was now before the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Medicine Authority.
She said the current method of controlling banana weevil borer and rust thrips is annual stem injections of imidacloprid into banana suckers.
“This is very labour intensive, so banana growers are keen for a longer-term, lower labour alternative,” Ms Mackay said.
“North Queensland agricultural consultant Harry Townley saw the potential to use controlled release technology to control these major insect pests in bananas, so approached us to consider developing a suitable suSCon product.
“Crop Care’s patented suSCon (sustained control) technology allows the active ingredient to be gradually released at the target site over a prolonged period to provide long-term control over pests, with minimal impact on the environment, reduced applications and improved safety for operators.
“For six years, we have been working with the banana industry to develop suSCon Yellow.”
She said Harry Townley had conducted nine long-term field trials from 2006 to 2012 on Innisfail, Palmerston and Kennedy properties to evaluate the new product.
At each site, the use of suSCon Yellow granules at planting was compared with annual stem injections of standard products. Each banana crop was studied from planting through to the harvest of fruit from second ratoons.
Ms Mackay said the trial results were very promising for banana growers, with the suSCon granules providing the banana corms with good protection from banana weevil borer damage in first and second-ratoon crops.
“We believe the injected imidacloprid moves quickly through the plant, suppressing beneficial insects that have been controlling mite populations.
“By contrast, suSCon Yellow releases the active ingredient slowly from the granule, reducing the impact on beneficials. So it is more IPM friendly, and could reduce growers’ spending on mite sprays.
“An important trial result was increased plant and bunch size in suSCon-treated bananas.”
Ms Mackay said a key benefit of the suSCon product to banana growers would be a great saving in labour, with the product applied at planting during normal planting operations, then providing three years’ protection of the crop.
“Banana growers who have been working with us on trialling and developing this product are keenly awaiting its registered use.
“Meanwhile, we are continuing to work with growers and their local engineering firms to develop suitable application equipment. Existing planters can be adapted fairly easily and inexpensively to include a precision granule applicator to apply the product.
“Innisfail growers Angelo Russo and Freddi Cauchi have also been working with us to prepare a video on the product’s application.”
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