BASF’s ‘novel’ wireworm seed treatment makes pitch to PMRA

Teraxxa could be available in Western Canada next year if approved by Canadian regulatory authorities

Cereals show the damage from munching wireworms, something BASF hopes its new seed insecticide will help avoid.

BASF hopes Teraxxa F4, its new cereal seed insecticide for wireworm control, will be available in Western Canada next year.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is reviewing Teraxxa and must approve it before it can be used commercially in Canada. The seed treatment is now in the public consultation period after getting handed a proposed registration decision June 11.

Why it matters: Current neonic controls for wireworms are more deterrent than elimination, as well as potentially getting caught in the crossfire as neonics continue to come under public pressure, but BASF says its new chemistry could change the game.

Last year, BASF said that it hoped to get final approval for the seed treatment in both the U.S. and Canada in time for the 2021 growing season.

The company has pitched the insecticide as a game changer against wireworms, as current chemistries do more to deter feeding than actively killing the pest.

“Teraxxa rapidly eliminates wireworms upon contact in the field. We’re reducing those resident populations,” Chris Hewitt, BASF’s senior brand manager for seed treatments, told reporters during a webinar July 22.

Teraxxa’s active ingredient, broflanilide, will be the first Group 30 insecticide to come to the Canadian market.

Wireworms are a common problem in cereal seedlings growing in the brown and dark-brown soils found in the southern halves of Alberta and Saskatchewan, Hewitt said.

Their feeding on seedling roots can cause yellow leaves, shorter plants and even kill plants in large patches, which farmers sometimes attribute to a plugged seeder or other problems.

“Where you have significant pressure, it can be an up to 50 per cent yield impact,” Hewitt said.

Teraxxa works by binding to a specific site of action upon contact that affects the wireworm’s central nervous system, Hewitt said. That causes rapid, irreversible hyperactivity of nerves and muscles leading to convulsions, paralysis and death, he said.

There are several species of wireworms in Manitoba and across the West and Teraxxa works on them all, according to Hewitt.

“This is a really powerful mode of action,” he said.

While wireworms are usually not as big a problem in Manitoba, they sometimes cause crop damage and losses, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development entomologist John Gavloski said July 27.

“They can be an issue here, definitely, and we’ve even seen fields that have to be reseeded because of them,” Gavloski said.

Manitoba farmers currently use neonicotinoid insecticides on wireworms, but they aren’t very effective, Gavloski said.

The proposed registration for Teraxxa would include wheat, barley, oats, rye, triticale and canary seed, according to Hewitt.

The company also plans to roll out a pre-mix option for Teraxxa, which combines broflanilide with BASF’s fungicide portfolio.

They will also investigate what other insects Teraxxa might control in various crops, Hewitt said.

“We have been very strong in our herbicide portfolio and our fungicide portfolio, but bringing insecticide solutions to our Canadian growers has been a slower development for us, so we’re really excited, and broflanilide represents a new insecticide for our customers and the start of a renaissance for this part of our portfolio and we hope to bring other insecticides moving forward,” said Jeff Bertholet, BASF’s technical services manager.

Hewitt also pointed to further cereals innovations coming down the pipe, such as BASF’s efforts on hybrid wheat varieties, which the company hopes to launch by the mid-2020s.

“Teraxxa’s kind of one of the first starting points for a lot of that innovation,” he said. “There’s definitely a lot more to come that we’re excited to talk about in cereals.”

BASF says it expects a final decision from the PMRA this fall.

A U.S. representative from the company was, likewise, optimistic of the registration timeline south of the international border.

“We’ll continue to provide whatever support or information they need to complete the process,” they said via email. “We remain hopeful that we’ll receive registration in time for the 2021 growing season.”

– With files from Alexis Stockford

About the author


Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.



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