DAVIS, Calif., May 2 /PRNewswire/ -- AgraQuest, Inc. is pleased to announce the launch of Ballad(TM) Biofungicide for control of Asian soybean rust on organic soybeans and other legumes. Ballad is based on a naturally occurring patented strain of the bacterial species Bacillus pumilus, which produces natural pesticidal compounds. These compounds, present in every container of Ballad, destroy the cell walls of the rust pathogen. Ballad is AgraQuest's first entry into the large-acreage row crops. To date, the company has targeted high value fruits, nuts, vegetables, and home gardens. Ballad was as effective as the chemical standard, azoxystrobin (marketed as Quadris(R) and Amistar(R) in various crops) in recent Asian soybean rust field trials in South Africa. Ballad is approved for use in organic agriculture by OMRI and the National Organic Program. While there are several chemicals that are approved or under emergency exemption for control of soybean rust in conventional soybeans, Ballad is currently the only product approved for organic soybeans. The USDA estimates that there are 500,000- 600,000 acres of organic soybeans in the US, growing at a fast pace of more than 20% new plantings per year. The high consumer demand for healthy soy products has sparked the increase, and there are probably another 400,000 acres in transition to organic. "Organic growers have limited tools to manage this disease," said Chris Coombs, AgraQuest's US Business VP. Continued Coombs, "Asian soybean rust has proven to be devastating to soybean yields in South America. We encourage organic growers to stay ahead of the disease progress and apply Ballad as a preventative treatment for rust and other diseases that reduce yields." The disease, originally from China, has been causing serious infections in South America and came to the United States with hurricane Ivan in 2004. First detection was in southeastern states but was also found in Missouri this past fall and as of late April is present in Florida and Georgia ( http://www.sbrusa.net ). The amount of resources dedicated by the USDA, the university extension system, and the soybean and agrichemical industries to address the problem is quite substantial considering the potential impact on the US soybean market. There are no known varieties that are resistant to soybean rust, but the USDA is working on developing varieties that will resist damage. Soybeans are not the only crop affected. Growers of other legumes such as lima beans and snap beans will also be affected. AgraQuest recommends protecting the crop from flowering to pod fill. Because of the biodegradability of the product, intervals between sprays should be no more than 14-days. Ballad has no export restrictions, no pre- harvest interval, and is exempt from CODEX rules. It has a four-hour re-entry period, is compatible with copper, sulfur and many other products, and has a high degree of safety to beneficial insects and other organisms. Ballad is a preventive product and should be used before rust infections appear. Ballad is available in 30-gallon drums and 2.5-gallon containers. About AgraQuest AgraQuest is a biotechnology company that focuses on discovering, developing, manufacturing and marketing effective, safe and environmentally friendly natural pest management products for agricultural, institutional and home markets The company sells Serenade and Rhapsody(R) Biofungicides and recently announced registration of Sonata biofungicide for control of powdery mildew, downy mildew and rust. Pending at the EPA are Arabesque(TM) biofumigant and Virtuoso(TM) bioinsecticide. In 2003, AgraQuest won the prestigious Presidential Green Chemistry Award from the EPA for the discovery and commercialization of Serenade Biofungicide. In 2004, AgraQuest received a Red Herring Top 100 Private Company Award and a World Technology Award. Certain matters contained in the press release concerning AgraQuest, Inc. are forward-looking statements which are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties which may cause the Company's actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, among others, the receipt of EPA and other regulatory approval of the Company's products, the success of the Company's products in field trials and the timely development, manufacture and marketing and acceptance of the Company's products in the marketplace. NOTE: Quadris and Amistar are registered trademarks of Syngenta Corporation
SOURCE AgraQuest, Inc.