A new, phosphite-based fungicide designed for improved suppression of deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat and barley infected by Fusarium head blight (FHB) has been introduced by Verdesian Life Sciences.

The fungicide, Fungi-Phite Cereals, is recommended for use in tandem with triazole fungicides that are currently labeled and widely used for suppression of FHB by grain producers. While the triazole fungicides are effective in suppressing FHB, they have little or no direct activity on DON.

From an economic standpoint, FHB is one of most devastating cereal diseases, being responsible for significant grain yield and quality losses on farms in at least 18 states. The mycotoxins or vomitoxins, collectively called DON, pose a serious threat to the health of humans and livestock when ingested.

Food industries throughout the U.S. incur losses from the cost of dealing with the toxin-contaminated grain that often accompanies FHB infection. Combined losses to all steps in the food system are difficult to estimate, but the cost at the farm gate alone is estimated to exceed 9 billion dollars since 1990.

“The addition of Fungi-Phite Cereals to the triazole fungicides helps provide an added layer of protection from DON,” said Ryan Bond, Ph.D., vice president of marketing and technical development for Verdesian Life Sciences. “Fungi-Phite Cereals, while it has no direct effect on FHB, it can suppress the expression of DON from the Fusarium.”

According to Bond, in some cases and years, a low presence of FHB still results in a high expression of DON in the grain, and vice versa.

“It is all dependent on the level of stress placed on the Fusarium fungi infecting the grain – the greater the stress on the microorganism, the greater the DON is expressed in the grain,” he said. “The objective with this new fungicide is to reduce the incidence of poor quality, infected grain that limits the farmer’s income opportunity.”

Bond also noted that there are no other phosphite fungicides available in the cereals market, and the new product’s unique formulation makes it well suited for broad tank-mix compatibility. Fungi-Phite Cereals is applied at a rate of one quart per acre at flowering with labeled triazoles, either by ground, air or via irrigation systems.

“Based on third-party field trials, Fungi-Phite Cereals reduced DON in harvested grain by 78 percent or less than 1 ppm,” Bond said. “This type of reduction in DON would allow the grower to maximize his ROI by selling his grain at a food-grade premium versus at a lesser livestock value.”