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New Versys gives growers another win over aphids

The ideal new insecticide for horticulture is one that hits target pests very hard while being as soft as possible on beneficial insects.

Chris Monsour testimonial

The ideal new insecticide for horticulture is one that hits target pests very hard while being as soft as possible on beneficial insects.

But, as Chris Monsour of Prospect Agriculture in North Queensland points out, even products that tick the first box can’t be taken for granted.

“Going back four or five years, aphids were almost uncontrollable in capsicums and cucurbits in our region,” Chris recalls. The previous chemical options were failing and the use of beneficials was not as widespread or sophisticated as it is now. “Transform came along and it was a saving grace. But the danger was that, with only one effective product, it would be over-used.”

Now the launch of new Versys from BASF gives growers an important new option. When asked if growers have been in need of a product with its attributes, Chris’s answer is emphatic: “Very much so.”

“Versys has a new mode of action for sucking pests that’s very effective against green peach aphids and melon (or cotton) aphids,” Chris says.

“In the few months it's been available so far, it's performed very well – although we haven’t had a heavy aphid year. I was involved in the development work and trials with Versys, so it's quite satisfying from a scientific point of view to see it performing as well as expected.”

Just as importantly, Versys meets the second requirement of an ideal insecticide too. ““What we don’t want to do,” says Chris, “is come in with something that will blow the beneficial insects away. Because Versys is very soft and safe to all beneficial insects, it helps with the overall program to control aphids as well as other key pests like silverleaf whitefly and even heliothis.”

Versys is registered for suppression of silverleaf whitefly and not registered for heliothis at all, but Chris’s point is that pest management really does require an integrated approach. One of the secondary – but still important – benefits of using Versys is that it doesn’t cause knock-on effects that might interfere with the control of other pests.

“With this softer chemistry, we’re not flaring other pests,” he explains. “So we’re not spraying as much and that’s a saving for growers as well.”

While Versys won’t be a first line of attack on silverleaf whitefly, Chris sees it as having a fit in the overall approach – which again typifies the role innovative chemistry plays in a genuinely integrated program. “We will use it for whitefly in tomatoes and cucurbits when it’s appropriate, and for resistance management,” he says. “There’s a range of effective tools being used in pest control now, so we’re not automatically relying on a product to knock down large populations. There are places where silverleaf whitefly pressure is very high, but cultural controls like avoiding new plantings next to mature crops can reduce pressure because the whiteflies can’t just move across.”

Efficient management of aphids also involves a variety of control tools, but Chris expects Versys to quickly become one of the preferred options.