BASF hopes to have approval for a new pre-emergence blackgrass herbicide, Luximo, in time for the autumn 2021 drilling season, subject to regulatory approvals.

The company’s blackgrass testing programme, across 122 farms, showed that resistance to existing chemistry increased by 43% between 2013 and 2019. Extrapolated across the UK, it cites ADAS estimates that this is equivalent to a yield loss of some 0.8 million tonnes of wheat yield or £0.4 billion in lost gross profit. Resistance is a growing issue in many European country markets too

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“Over this relatively short 6 year timeframe, total resistance to the main 3 mechanisms control has increased by 12% – from 46% to 58%,” says BASF UK business development manager, cereal herbicides Stuart Kevis. “However, as worrying as this is, the largest single shift was to ALS inhibitor herbicides, such as mesosulfuron. RRR resistance grew by 43% to 78% of the sample showing RRR resistance, while overall 89% of the total population tested showed resistance to ALS.

“This constitutes a huge loss in levels of control: only around 10% of populations is susceptible to these types of contact herbicides, something that has been noted in-field by farmers and agronomists over the past few years.”

Luximo (cinmethylin) is not new chemistry – it was first developed by Shell in the 1970s but not for European agriculture. A re-evaluation of the active found it has a new mode of action against blackgrass, the first new mode to reach the market for many years. It blocks an enzyme pathway associated with cell membrane synthesis, making emerging weed seedlings unviable.

But the company is anxious to protect this advance through responsible stewardship. “As excited as we are about what this new chemistry can achieve, Luximo should not be looked upon as a ‘silver bullet’,” stresses BASF’s UK cereal herbicides and PGRs campaign manager Ali Richards. “Rather, we need to promote Luximo as the final part of an integrated weed management (IWM) strategy, working alongside tried and tested cultural controls. Its role should be as a building block that we all need to protect for many future years.”

BASF will bring Luximo to market through a collaborative venture with distribution partners, growers and agronomists. It is running a series of Real Results Virtual Farm Tours this summer to bring growers, advisors and researchers together to discuss how control mechanisms are changing and share individual tips on tackling rising resistance.

“Talking to people across the industry is one of the most important things we are doing ahead of the Luximo launch,” concludes Ms Richards.