As a plant pathologist who kills a lot of turf today so he can help superintendents keep it alive tomorrow, Bruce Martin, Ph.D., knows a good fungicide program when he sees one - even if it is not his own. When Clemson University's Martin stacked his own fungicide program against two developed by BASF technical specialist Kathie Kalmowitz, Ph.D., he knew he was up against pretty stiff competition.
Martin's multi-product program has become the standard by which he measures other treatment programs in his research at Clemson University, including those developed by Kalmowitz that include two new BASF fungicides that are awaiting label registration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. All three treatments performed well throughout the summer of 2013, but the two developed by BASF exhibited higher turf quality deeper into the summer.
One BASF program included Xzemplar, while the other featured Lexicon Intrinsic fungicide. Both treatments resulted in lush, green Crenshaw bentgrass on Martin's research plots.
"Her two programs were neck and neck the whole summer," Martin said. "I was hanging around pretty good until the end here, and then I tapered off. So, you win."
Xzemplar, with the active ingredient fluxapyroxad, is a succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor fungicide that works by blocking fungi respiration and disrupting the energy supply, which prevents further growth of fungal cells, said Renee Keese, Ph.D., research and development project leader for BASF's turf and ornamentals division.
With both preventive and curative control modes of action, Xzemplar is described by BASF researchers as representing advanced disease control for dollar spot and brown patch.
"It has faster curative activity. It's longer lasting, and it's better, new technology," said Kyle Miller, technical specialist for BASF. "It's the better mousetrap."
Lexicon Intrinsic contains both fluxapyroxad and pyraclostrobin, the ingredient common to all BASF Intrinsic products. Like it's cousin, Xzemplar, Lexicon is long-lasting. It is rainfast in two hours and because it is not a DMI, it can be used throughout the summer without threat of phytotoxicity.
EPA registration for both products for use on golf and sports turf is expected by mid-November, with state registrations expected to begin in the first quarter of 2014. Like other Intrinsic products, Lexicon will have the words "plant health" on its label.
BASF researchers recognize that on its face, the phrase plant health is an innocuous term. And to get it past the EPA as well as BASF's own legal team and onto a label means first defining the term and then proving a product meets those standards in replicated trials.
BASF officials defined plant health based on the Intrinsic line's ability to produce turf that has enhanced root development and is tolerant to disease stress, said Thavy Staal, marketing manager for the company's T&O unit.
Lexicon and Xzemplar have been run through about 150 trials through 2012, with another 50 or so conducted this year, Keese said.
Those trials have shown Lexicon to provide speedy curative control of dollar spot on bentgrass, summer patch in tall fescue and fairy ring on Kentucky bluegrass. The current label application submitted to the EPA includes 26 diseases. The fast-acting properties of Xzemplar and Lexicon Intrinsic even outperformed BASF's Emerald (boscalid) and Honor Intrinsic, a combination of boscalid and pyraclostrobin that has been on the market since 2010.
Among the diseases Xzemplar is formulated to control are dollar spot, brown patch, summer patch, pink snow mold and gray snow mold. In dollar spot trials it has provided 28 days of control with one application.
It won't control algae per se, but can help produce lush turf that is an inhospitable host to algae, Miller said.
"The bottom line," Miller said, "is that we get excellent quality turf with Xzemplar in dollar spot and brown patch trials."
Martin also tested both products on TifEagle Bermudagrass managed under putting conditions and Lexicon Intrinsic on Bermudagrass maintained at fairway height. More than six months after the trial had been completed he still was able to pick out the plots treated with Lexicon.
"Those are the results that surprised me," Martin told TurfNet in August. "Those plots were disease free all spring."