Fennell, based in Research Triangle, N.C., told a group of growers and consultants recently in Carmel, Calif., that BASF would no longer be known strictly as a Midwest corn agchem company.

“We fully realize the value of a 100,000 acres of grapes is a lot more than 100,000 acres of corn,” said Fennell. “California is not the Corn Belt, and we are not going to treat California like it is. The growth for BASF will come with high value crops” like those grown in the West.

BASF, after its acquisition of American Cyanamid for $4 billion, is now the third largest agchem company in the world. It is the No. 1 in fungicide sales globally, he noted.

“Our goal is to have a fungicide for disease control in every major market by 2005,” he said.

Like all major chemical companies, BASF has initiated a major biotech research and development program, pledging more than $700 million to biotech over the next decade.

However, Fennell said “there will a lot of sorting out within the next five to seven years in biotech,” he said, adding that to gain acceptance BASF and others must work with food companies to gain public acceptance of biotech crops.

However, Fennell said BASF’s biotech effort is not linked to BASF’s agricultural chemistry division.

New registrations

BASF’s aggressive marketing efforts in traditional farm chemicals will include registration of Sovran for grapes, apples and pears this year. The herbicide Prowl, he added, will be registered for permanent crops in 2002 and there is a new herbicide, F500, which will be launched internationally within the year for use on more than 100 crops. It will carry the trade name “Cabrio” for fruit and vegetable crops and “Headline” will be the name of the herbicide for row crops and permanent crops like citrus.

Fennell also rattled off several numbered compounds, mostly fungicides, earmarked for California crops over the next half dozen years.

Not long after Fennel talked about BASF’s future, the company made good on its pledge to bolster efforts in the California market when the California Department of Pesticide Regulation granted a label for its new miticide/insecticide, Nexter for use on grapes, peaches, nectarines, almonds and other tree nut crops.

Nexter is being marketed as a “new resistance management tool” for pest control in those major crops.

Nexter’s active ingredient is pyridaben. It provides what BASF calls a “unique mode of action by working on the mitochondrial electron transport inhibitor to block cellular respiration, causing pests to lose mobile coordination and eventually collapse.”

The company says Nexter will provide “rapid knockdown and residual control” of most damaging mites and leafhoppers in California.

The recommended Nexter rate is 6.6 ounces or one soluble bag per acre.

According to Greg Roman, BASF market manager, Nexter can be applied season-long, but is most effective when populations begin to build.

It provides the next mite control at the nymphal stages, but it has ovicidal activity and is effective on adults.

Nexter has a 12-hour work re-entry interval and a seven-day preharvest interval.