Empacadores Unidos has reported record yields following the introduction of a bespoke Biobest pollination and biological control programme

Bombus Attratus on tomato plant Biobest Argentina Empacadores Unidos

Biobest has reported on the successful introduction of a bespoke pollination and biological control programme at a customer in Argentina focusing on peppers and tomatoes.

According to Biobest the customer, Empacadores Unidos, has ”reported record yields” after adopting the programme.

Producing 15ha of tomatoes and 8ha of sweet peppers, Empacadores Unidos has worked with Biobest for the past decade, adopting biological control and bumblebees for pollination in Argentina.

“In 2021 we exceeded our production record, harvesting more than 1,500 boxes (15,000kg) of fruit daily over a two-week period,” said Empacadores Unidos business owner and grower Livio Simon. “While we’ve never had yields this high, the fruit size, weight and colour has been spectacular.”

”The whitefly is well controlled with Biobest’s Swirskii-System – with the Amblyseius swirskii mites outnumbering the whitefly at the edges of the crop,” explained technical advisor Alberto Lezzi. ”The beneficials have established really well in the crops.

”As well as swirskii, the predatory bug Orius insidiosus (Orius-System) can easily be found in the flowers,” he added. ”Where you don’t see these predators, you find the parasitic wasp Eretmocerus-System (Eretmocerus eremicus) – helping to keep whitefly well controlled.”

“Overall, the whitefly control in the crop is really impressive,” Simon noted. “As a result, we’re noticing much lower levels of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV).

”Thrips are all but absent in some greenhouses, while in others there are just one or two in occasional flowers.”

According to Simon, his number one pest and disease challenge was the fungal disease pathogen Leveilula Taurica, causing powdery mildew.

“We applied an azoxystrobin systemic fungicide through our irrigation system, but it didn’t work as well as previous years,” he continued. “We therefore resorted to a fungicide containing difenoconazole plus pydiflumetofen. Applied without oil, to minimise interference to the beneficials, it has worked well.

Simon said that the Biobest hives, containing the group’s native bumblebee Bombus atratus, have delivered ”exceptional results” in the tomato crops.

“We’ve had one hundred per cent marked flowers and setting – reflected in the high yields.

“The quality is exceptional – the fruit are an ideal size and firmness,” he outlined. ”We’re delighted with the yields and the prices have also been good – to-date the results have been really impressive.”

“During the challenging hot and dry summer conditions, Tuta absoluta and spider mite (Tetranychus spp.) can attack,” Simon added. “We’ll continue to work closely with Alberto and Biobest to meet these challenges head on.”