Biological fungicides delivered by Flying Doctors® now available in the Netherlands

Since the beginning of the year, Dutch strawberry and raspberry growers have been able to rely on bumblebees to control Botrytis. Our Flying Doctors® ensure a continuous spread of Prestop® 4B (for bee), the extremely effective biofungicide with no risk of resistance.

Until recently, a combination of the useful fungus, Gliocladium catenulatum J1446, developed by Lallemand Plant Care, with Flying Doctors® was only allowed to be used by Belgian and Finnish growers. The Dutch authorities gave the go-ahead at the end of 2015 and now growers in the Netherlands can also rely on the effective Flying doctors® and Prestop® 4B combination – the product name for Gliocladium*.

The Botrytis fungus (Botrytis cinerea) manifests itself especially during the flowering stage of strawberry and raspberry crops. It is particularly troublesome as, in general, the infection is dormant for a prolonged period, only to breakthrough and cause fruit rot just before or after harvest time.

The Flying Doctors® and Prestop® 4B combination removes the unpleasant task of spraying. The hives are equipped with a reservoir through which the bumblebees proceed on their way out. The biofungicide sticks to their feet. The bumblebees then swarm out over the hive and leave Gliocladium residue directly on the flowers they visit while pollinating the flowers at the same time.

Gliocladium is an extremely versatile fungicide,” says Sarah Van Beneden, Product Manager at Biobest. “The fungus settles itself in the same place as Botrytis, whereby the Botrytis eventually loses ground.” But Gliocladium has more to offer. “It produces an enzyme which damages the cell wall of the malicious intruder,” she says. “Because of the versatile nature of the beneficial fungus Gliocladium, there is also no sign of resistance development to Botrytis.”

Using Flying Doctors® saves growers valuable time. Bumblebees work seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset – which means the fungus is continuously controlled and the blossoms enjoy continuous protection. Sarah Van Beneden adds that bumblebees are also exceptionally cost effective thanks to their precise working method. “In the end, much less of the product is needed than with conventional spraying.”

At the end of last year, a trial was conducted at the fruit producer Hennissen (Dutch Limburg). The management team introduced the combination of Flying Doctors® with Prestop® 4B in their protected raspberry crops. “We wanted to see with our own eyes how the biological fungus actually works in practice,” says André Hennissen. “Preventive control is extremely important for our raspberries, which blossom for six weeks but are only open for a very short time. We used to spray pesticides every two weeks.”

Hennissen looks back at the trial with satisfaction. “Gliocladium was found in 100% of the flower samples. This eventually led to the proper protection of the fruit. Thanks to the Flying Doctors® and Prestop® 4B, we were able to stop chemical spraying during the blossoming stage. Only during harvesting did we resort to a few pesticide sprays.”

Controlling the fungus organically provided Hennissen with peace of mind. “It is very satisfying to know that the bumblebees are not only pollinating but also controlling the fungi at the same time.”

After Belgium***, Finland and the Netherlands,** France is likely to be added to the list where the combination of Flying Doctors® and Prestop® 4B may be sold during 2016.


*Until the end of 2015, Prestop 4B was sold in Belgium under the product name Verdera B4

** In the Netherlands Prestop 4B is authorised to be used to control Botrytis in the protected cultivation of strawberries and raspberries

*** In Belgium Prestop 4B is authorised to be used to control Botrytis in the cultivation of protected and field grown strawberries and raspberries.

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