In Focus: Three Questions With Sarah Reiter

Editor’s Note: Sarah Reiter is the director of global marketing for AgraQuest, overseeing all of AgraQuest’s brands in all markets. She is also responsible for launching new products and expanding existing products into new markets. AgraQuest focuses on discovering, developing, manufacturing, and marketing highly effective biological and low-chemical pest, disease control, and yield enhancing products for agriculture.

1. Florida Grower (FLG):Requiem insecticide was recently registered in Florida. What are some key benefits of this product?

Sarah Reiter: Requiem is a highly effective insecticide for the control of key vegetable, fruit, and tree pests with a unique mode of action based on a synergistic suite of compounds extracted from the plant Chenopodium ambrosioides. Requiem has demonstrated control of whiteflies, aphids, mites, thrips, and other pests in more than 600 trials and grower demonstrations. Requiem delivers contact control of most stages of pests — from eggs to adults. It has negligible effects on beneficial insects like minute pirate bugs, bees, or lady beetles. It is exempt from residue tolerances and is flexibly labeled with 0-day pre-harvest interval and 4-hour restricted entry interval.

Requiem is an excellent example of using the power of nature to meet grower needs. Over the past several years, the western flower thrips (WFT) has emerged as a key pest in central and south Florida. Unable to control this thrips species, pepper producers have sustained significant crop losses. UF/IFAS entomologists, led by Dr. Joe Funderburk, have been promoting integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, including the use of beneficial insects, as the solution. An integral part of their IPM strategy is the need for an insecticide active on WFT but with low impact on minute pirate bug, a key beneficial insect. The registration of Requiem in Florida in January came at a good time and was quickly integrated into thrips control programs on peppers. AgraQuest will continue to support UF/IFAS’ efforts in promoting IPM on the farm in Florida.

2. FLG: Discuss how we can tap into the natural world to develop crop production products that will enhance yields and productivity.

Reiter: Natural products have long been the source of many of the most widely used crop chemical solutions. Pyrethroid insecticides, for instance, originated from pyrethrums extracted from chrysanthemums. Strobilurin fungicides are based on an ingredient originally extracted from a fungus. Bt insecticides, perhaps the most widely used biopesticides, are microbial, produced by bacteria.

AgraQuest is redefining the agrochemical industry with the introduction of effective, innovative, and environmentally responsible pest and disease control products and services. AgraQuest is the premier supplier of proprietary, data-driven biological and low-chemical technology, and unlike many conventional pesticides which are made using petroleum-based or other synthetic chemicals, AgraQuest’s products are produced from renewable, bio-based materials.

3. FLG: Is it important for these types of natural products to work along with a plant’s own internal mechanisms to boost defense and/or productivity?

Reiter: It’s important to recognize that natural products are themselves chemistry. Some of the chemistry acts directly on targets; some of the chemistry works within the plant to up-regulate self defense mechanisms. Take Serenade, our broad spectrum fungicide, for example. Serenade controls pathogens through a combination of four distinct levels of activity, which are listed below.

1. As a contact fungicide: The lipopeptide chemistry in Serenade (produced by its Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713 cells during fermentation) is directly fungicidal, puncturing holes in the membranes of fungal cells. The cell contents leak out and the fungus dies.

2. As a contact bactericide: Serenade also contains anti-bacterial chemistry which prevents the cell walls of bacteria from forming.

3. Through systemic response: Serenade triggers plant disease resistance and abiotic stress resistance.

4. Through growth promotion: Compounds in Serenade induce plant growth.

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