AgraQuest, Inc. announced that the EPA has recently approved seed treatment uses of the microbial active ingredients in Serenade and Sonata fungicides, both already widely used by growers as effective foliar or soil fungicides.

Extensive field trial testing as seed treatments over the past several years demonstrated control of key diseases such as fusarium, rhizoctonia and pythium that impact seed germination and plant growth in a wide range of crops including soybeans, cotton, corn, wheat and vegetables. The field trials conducted by AgraQuest, its customers and potential partners showed the products improved crop stand and vigor, and resulted in yield improvements at harvest.

"Results of field trials with these technologies give us confidence that they will make valuable tools in the hands of growers," said Joe Schmidt, VP of business development for AgraQuest's BioInnovations division. Expanded field testing by major seed companies and seed treaters will continue in 2012, with launch plans for 2013.

"Microbial technologies are ideally suited for use as soil and seed treatments," explained Michael Miille, Ph.D., chief operating officer at AgraQuest. "Not only do the products deliver contact control of seed and soil pests, they also quickly colonize the root surface as the seedling emerges and deliver compounds important to pest control as well as stress tolerance and plant growth directly into the root zone." Serenade Soil fungicide, introduced to U.S. growers in 2010, delivers similar multi-functional activity in a soil drench formulation.

These technologies are the first in a range of microbial seed treatments AgraQuest expects to introduce to global markets in coming years. Controlling a wide spectrum of diseases and soil insects as well as nematodes, the product portfolio will deliver a mode of action complementary to conventional seed treatment chemistries.