Australian grant offers chance to register product against Alternaria disease

In a recent development for apple growers concerned about the disease-causing fungus Alternaria, the Australian Government will fund research to support the registration of the crop protection product Switch (Cyprodinil and Fludioxonil) for Alternaria.

The funding was announced under Round 3 of the Australian Government’s AgVet Chemical Grants Program to improve farmers’ access to agvet chemicals.

The fungus Alternaria causes both Alternaria Leaf Blotch and Fruit Spot and has become more widespread across many apple-growing regions of Australia. In Queensland alone, it is estimated that Alternaria causes $2.5 million in lost production annually yet currently growers have little access to registered fungicides to manage the problem.

While most significant for Queensland growers, the disease is commonly found throughout NSW, Victoria and South Australia presenting both in the orchard and post-harvest where the pathogen carries through to packhouses causing further losses. In particular, there is little protection during the harvest period preventing this pathogen movement to the packhouses with the situation even worse in wet summers.

Under the grants program, industries are represented by their respective Research and Development Corporations (RDCs) which, in our case, is Hort Innovation. APAL provided its top priority as Alternaria for apples.

The program will see $8 million invested over four years (2014-2018) into the grants program and a collaborative forum where chemical companies, RDCs and industries can communicate their top priorities for their respective industries. The costs of registering new products is expensive and can often be uneconomic for companies to justify which can mean industries don’t have the same level of access to chemical crop protection products as markets overseas.

For apples, the grant will provide funding for the necessary efficacy and residue trials to generate the data support this new registration. Switch is already registered for use on pome fruit in 24 European countries and Chile.

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