In golf course maintenance, pests are a potential problem lurking in all areas. One need only consider the recent invasions of armyworms.
Long before armyworms made their threatening northward migration in 2021, a team of trained and experienced researchers from BASF pondered the possibilities of combining a pair of active ingredients from different classes of insecticides. The result of their efforts led BASF to introduce its first insecticide for golf courses.
The insecticide is called Alucion ™ 35 WG Insecticide and it contains the active ingredients dinotefuran (group 4A) and alpha-cypermethrin (group 3A). Dinotefuran is translaminar and systemic, providing contact activity as it travels through plant tissue, while alpha-cypermethrin binds to the plant cuticle and provides contact and feeding activity. The combination provides broad spectrum control and suppression of many surface feeding insects and ants.
Adding an insecticide to its golf portfolio is another thrill for a BASF team, which is also introducing Encartis ™ fungicide and Finale® XL T&O herbicide to the golf market this year. Alucion 35 WG Insecticide is the only synthetic pyrethroid with an unrestricted use label available in the golf market, according to Jen Browning, BASF Technical Service Specialist.
“It’s been brewing for several years,” says Browning. “Alpha-cypermethrin, the pyrethroid molecule is owned by BASF, and we spent a lot of time finding the right partner molecule and then testing to confirm that together they would provide the speed and residual that we were aiming for. “
Insecticide innovation is not a new concept for BASF. The company has a successful professional pest control division, and the active ingredients in Alucion 35 WG Insecticide also help control insects inside structures. The commodities of one division can become the innovations of another division through extensive research and development.
“Both of these active ingredients come from the pest control sector of our company,” says Kyle Miller, BASF Senior Technical Specialist. “They have proven themselves and they are very good performers there. This is one of the reasons they got together and we went ahead because we knew they would have a crisis and they are just strong assets overall.
How does Alucion 35 WG Insecticide fit into a golf bug management program?
BASF has worked with researchers, universities and collaborators across the country to understand which turf insects are controlled and suppressed by Alucion 35 WG Insecticide. For some researchers, such as associate professor of turf science at Penn State University, Dr. Ben McGraw, Alucion 35 WG insecticide offered the opportunity to experiment with a new combination for turf.
“There is always the possibility of a synergy between two components when they are mixed,” says McGraw, one of the leading turf entomologists. “It’s always interesting. Even though it is an additive, one component can weaken a specific life stage, and the other active ingredient can come in and do the cleaning.
Alucion 35 WG Insecticide is labeled for the control of ants, armyworms, cutworms, meadowsworms, chinch bugs and chinch bugs. Helping golf and turf pros in colder regions cope with Legionaries was a big part of McGraw’s August and September days. “I prefer to talk about other insects,” said McGraw, referring to the havoc wreaked by legionaries this year. “We tested the Fall Armyworm Alucion and it looks really good on them.”
BASF defines commercial control of an insect as reducing individuals by 80 percent or more, according to Browning. BASF defines commercial suppression as a reduction in individuals between 70 percent and 80 percent.
Alucion 35 WG is also tagged for suppression of annual bluegrass weevil (ABW), European crane and mole crickets.
Trials have shown Alucion 35 WG Insecticide to be an intriguing tool in the cooler weather control to prevent ABW from damaging turf. “When it comes to ABW, I would recommend waiting to apply after the peak of adults and before the first larval stages are present (or the time of egg hatching),” McGraw said. “It also allows you to come with a larvicide if you need it. In some of our really pyrethroid sensitive populations, this one application would give you what I might consider very good control. Having it early allows additional products to be incorporated into this program when needed. It is an insect that we do not make a single application and from which we do not move away in a generation. “
Ultimately, customers will determine how innovation can best solve potential problems. Insects vary from region to region and even from course to course. Alucion 35 WG Insecticide can be applied wall to wall or by spot treatments once per year. Superintendents will surely find innovative ways to use a new product.
“It’s the plague,” said Browning. “It tells superintendents how they’re going to use a product and how they’re going to integrate it into their insecticide programs.”
There is also a new herbicide
BASF’s busy year 2021 also involves the commercialization of a new non-selective herbicide in the golf market that it has positioned as an alternative to glyphosate.
Finale XL T&O Herbicide joins a portfolio of herbicides that includes Drive® XLR8 Herbicide, Pylex® Herbicide, Tower® Herbicide, Pendulum® AquaCap Herbicide, Basagran® T&O Herbicide and Herbicide Segment® II
“It fills a great void for us,” Miller says. “In the non-selective herbicide business, there are only a few choices, and we have one. We think this is important.
T&O Finale XL Herbicide has a myriad of potential uses on and around golf courses, including the ability to control weeds along the edges of cart tracks, at the base of trees, the edges of ponds, pumping stations, bunkers, fences, gravel driveways and parking lots, and landscaped beds. It can also be used to perform spot treatments in rough and native areas.
“The most important thing is that wherever you spray it, that’s where it controls that particular weed,” says Miller. “It has extreme precision and gives you nice, crisp edges. If you are dealing on the golf course or want to get around bunkers or part of a wagon or whatever, this is great with super low usage rates. We are about half of what is used for glyphosate in many situations. “
Browning adds, “It also doesn’t come with the weed resistance baggage that glyphosate has. This year, 47 weeds around the world are resistant to glyphosate. Seventeen are found in the United States and three of them are Poa species. There’s no Poa species resistant to glufosinate, the active ingredient in Finale XL T&O Herbicide. There is only one weed in the country that has shown resistance to glufosinate and it does not appear in turf and ornamentals.
T&O Finale XL Herbicide also adds a different tint to the spray tank. The new formulation of BASF features a red color, allowing applicators to clearly see the volume in the reservoir.