Verdesian Life Sciences Offers New Biological Herbicide

John DavisAgribusiness, Herbicides

verdesianA new herbicide offered by Verdesian Life Sciences will soon give growers of cereal crops, grass seed and alfalfa, and managers of rangeland and non-cropland a new biological tool for fighting downy brome. The company says D7 was discovered by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and commercially developed by Verdesian.

An invasive species, downy brome infests millions of acres of cropland, rangeland and non-crop areas across the United States. The weed, which outcompetes native grasses, is especially troublesome for winter wheat growers as its development cycle parallels that of winter wheat. In rangeland and non-crop areas, the unwanted plant has virtually eliminated native grass species and the highly flammable weed blankets the ground to provide fertile fuel for brush fires. In addition, the seeds produced by this invasive weed are very irritating to grazing animals and can induce significant stress in livestock.

The plant’s extensive root system is a key to downy brome’s proliferation. D7 suppresses the weed’s development and growth. For wheat growers who currently control the weed with herbicides that inhibit acetolactate synthase (ALS), D7 will offer a second mode of action to improve activity and help protect against resistance development. Uniquely, D7 does not control weeds through pathogenic interactions but rather through the secretion of chemicals selectively suppressive to cheatgrass.

“Most herbicides for control of cheatgrass are ALS-inhibiting,” said Ryan Bond, Ph.D., vice president of marketing, Verdesian. “We’ve seen some resistance development in the last few years, and D7 will give growers a tool to help mitigate that risk by offering a novel mode of action.”

Verdesian says D7 is to be used at low rates of 2 grams per acre and can be applied in-furrow, via aerial application or as a seed treatment. D7 will be commercially available in 2015.