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With debut of Timorex Gold, Stockton primed to make its mark on U.S. agriculture

The Stockton Group, a manufacturer of biopesticides headquartered in Israel, is offering fruit and vegetable growers in the United States a more effective and sustainable option for treating their crops.

Timorex Gold, the flagship product in Stockton’s line, is a plant-based broad spectrum biofungicide that was recently approved for use in the United States after being introduced on the global market in 2009, according to Sarah Reiter, Stockton’s California-based country manager. Reiter joined the company in February and brings more than 20 years of experience in crop protection following stints with Bayer CropScience, AgraQuest and Syngenta USA.Sarah-Reiter-Stockton-USA- 8746e2 8X10 300dpiSarah Reiter

“Timorex Gold is the leading biofungicide for banana production, and I am blessed to inherit the insight into how the product works in the real world after years of use in Central America and South America,” said Reiter.

Reiter said products are normally developed for the United States, with that being the initial market. But in the case of Timorex Gold, the United States is a chronologically later market, so there is already a good track record of the crops on which it can be successfully used.

“In the U.S., we are aiming at strawberries, blueberries, caneberries, grapes, cucurbits, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, peppers and tree nuts,” said Reiter.

In explaining Timorex Gold, Reiter said that since it is a plant-based extract, it offers distinct advantages over synthetic fungicides.

“For example, because it comes from a plant, it is not subject to an MRL, so there are no worries with chemical residues,” she said. “Also, since it is based on the plant’s own chemistry, it gives growers a predictable experience. So it has all the benefits of being classified as a biologic but performs like a synthetic. It is nice to bring growers the kind of experience they are used to with synthetics with the advantages of a biologic.”

Timorex Gold is approved for use in all U.S. states, with the exception of California, where approval is pending, said Reiter. “We expect to be granted approval there very soon,” she said. “It is just a matter of backlog, which is why the review process is taking longer.”

Without California in play, Reiter said Stockton is focused on Florida, where seasonal production of a number of high-value crops, such as strawberries, is under way. “But when spring hits, we’ll be targeting high-value crops in the rest of the country,” she said.

What can growers expect from using Timorex Gold on their crops?

According to Reiter, the primary advantage is disease control, especially with conditions affecting the surface of the plant, such as powdery mildew.

“But we are seeing secondary advantages, such as more consistent ripening, which is a huge advantage for hand-harvested fruit. When you put your harvesting crew in the field, you want them to be able to harvest as much product as possible, and not have it staggered over many weeks. Before, a grower might have had five harvests of a crop. But with Timorex Gold, they might only need three, so it can improve work efficiency and save labor costs.”

Additionally, Timorex Gold can be applied throughout the growing season and complements growers’ existing crop protection plans.

It can be used early in season as disease pressure is mounting, thus reducing the need to apply synthetic chemicals, and it can be used during the latter half of the season, which can help growers minimize residue on their crops as harvest approaches. It can even be applied up to 24 hours prior to harvest, which can extend shelf life of the product ╨ a key factor for highly perishable items like berries.

Timorex Gold is certified by leading organic associations, so growers of organic fruits and vegetables can use it throughout the growing cycle of a plant.

“An amazing portion of berry production has gone to organic or no residue, and I don’t think we’ll see that changing back any time soon,” said Reiter. “Growers are looking for solutions that help them meet customer demand for berries produced without chemistry, and Timorex Gold fits the criteria for organic production.”

Reiter said she is excited that Timorex Gold is a good fit with a lot of different crop models throughout the United States, and that it complements growers’ existing practices. It will replace some components in a program but not everything.

For example with strawberries, depending on where they are grown, there might be between 14 and 50 fungicide sprays in a year, according to Reiter. “We certainly wouldn╒t want all 14 sprays or all 50,” she said. “We want growers to be using multiple kinds of chemistry and to rotate so they don’t develop resistance, and we would love it if Timorex Gold became a component to what they are doing throughout the season.”

Reiter added that Timorex Gold has its own FRAC number, granted by the Fungicide Resistance Action Committee, a global entity that works with growers and pesticide manufacturers to help prevent development of resistance to keep chemistries effective as long as possible.

Timorex Gold was first developed in 2004 at an Israeli university and was acquired by Stockton shortly thereafter. Stockton did a large amount of work improving the formulation, said Reiter.

“Stockton’s expertise is in formulations, and they brought to this small university start-up, which had an awesome prototype, a professional formulation capability as well as large-scale international outreach,” said Reiter. “Stockton broadened the product’s appeal by creating a far better formulation that was less expensive and more acceptable to growers around the world, and that is when the product started expanding beyond Israel.”

Today, Stockton does business in 47 different countries, with a strong presence in the Americas, from southern tip of Chile all the way up to Canada. It also has an Eastern European division and a growing division in Asia.

“We are bringing a lot of products from our own research and development team in Israel and have been very active in M&A projects as a company to become larger factor than we could become through our own organic growth as a company,” said Reiter.

Reiter added that 2017 promises to be a busy and productive year for Stockton in the United States as it will introduce two to three new products for regulatory approval and two to three partnerships, acquisitions and/or licensing agreements.

“We’ll be super-busy with those as well as launching Timorex Gold,” she said.