Bayer issues fungicide warning for wine grape growers

Zurich | Reuters — Germany’s Bayer has advised wine grape growers not to use its Moon Privilege fungicide until its Bayer CropScience arm has investigated whether there’s a connection between the product’s use and reported crop damage.

Growers have reported deformed leaves and lower yields from their crops this year.

Referring to “atypical symptoms” in vines where Moon Privilege — known as Luna Privilege in Canada and some other markets — had been deployed in 2014, a statement on the company’s website said: “As long as the cause of this change in the grape vines remains unexplained, we recommend for precautionary reasons not to use Luna Privilege for wine growing.”

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The statement also said Bayer regrets the situation and is doing everything necessary to discover the cause.

Some Swiss wine grape growers claim that the fungicide is responsible for the damage and are demanding compensation, Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

Growers have estimated a potential loss of up to 10 per cent of the Swiss wine grape harvest, the paper said.

“The damage will, in any event, be in the three-digit millions (of Swiss francs),” Andreas Meier, a grower in the northern Swiss canton of Aargau, was quoted as saying.

The paper also said that Bayer has acknowledged in a letter to growers a “high probability” of a connection between the fungicide and damage to the 2015 harvest.

Bayer CropScience did not respond immediately to Reuters’ telephone and emailed requests for comment on Sunday.

The Luna group

Last year Bayer said it expected more than 250 million euros (C$371 million) in annual peak sales from its Luna group of products, which were launched in 2012 and are used for fruit and vegetable crops.

Luna Privilege, as approved in Canada, contains the Group 7 fungicide fluopyram at 500 grams per litre. The product is approved in Canada for control and prevention of certain diseases in apples, watermelon, dry beans, chickpea, lentil, peanut, potato, cherry, strawberry and almond crops.

Also, in Canadian wine grapes, the product is approved for control of botrytis bunch rot and grey mould, in varieties such as “but not limited to” Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.

Bayer’s other Luna product approved for use in Canada is Luna Tranquility, which also includes fluopyram, at a lower rate (125 g/L), combined with the Group 9 fungicide pyrimethanil at 375 g/L.

Luna Tranquility is approved for control of botrytis bunch rot, grey mould and powdery mildew in wine grape crops, and for control of other diseases in potato and apple crops.

Barring a renewal, both products’ current registration status with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is due to expire at the end of 2016.

Reporting for Reuters by John Miller in Zurich. Includes files from Network staff.


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