February 2022 - 10

Tested by time
Valent's classic DiPel insecticide turns 50 years old
DiPel applied to a field. Photos: Valent
By Stephen Kloosterman
Associate Editor
Decades ago - in the late 1980s and
early 1990s - specialty crop growers in
the South struggled with tobacco bug
worms that had developed resistance to
the pyrethroids.
It wasn't easy. Frank Clay-Lewis, a
crop advisor in Northeast Louisiana,
struggled to find solutions for the
growers he worked with, especially
cotton growers.
" He was recommending things to
control worms, and not (being) sure if
they would work, " said his son, Pat Clay.
" He lost a lot of weight and sleep during
those summers. "
That was one scenario in which DiPel,
a Bt formulation, was identified as a top
response for caterpillars. And Pat Clay,
products available to specialty crop
growers, they are not all the same.
" We do our best efforts at education, but
my best guess is, it's not a fully understood
topic (among growers), " Clay said.
DiPel specifically is a blend of four
who's now field market development
manager of the West for the product's
owner, Valent BioSciences, said DiPel
remains a viable product that's used
on everything from vegetables to tree
nuts to control more than 50 caterpillar
species. At 50 years old, DiPel is the
oldest product Valent has, Clay said.
And it has years left for usefulness.
" It's a tried and true product, " he said.
" It still has a relevancy as for controlling
insects. "
Although there are many Bt-based
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proteins and a spore, all of which are
byproducts of Bacillus thuringiensis
kurstaki (Btk), a bacteria that's naturally
found in soil. Applied to leaves, DiPel
kills caterpillars by acting on their
digestive tract. Clay said that Valent -
headquartered in Libertyville, Illinois,
as a subsidiary
of Tokyo-based
Sumitomo
Chemical Co.
Ltd. - makes
great effort
to ensure all
of DiPel's Btk
proteins and
spores are
present in the
right amounts in every batch of the
insecticide.
While the advent of Bt cotton and
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Bt corn - genetically modified crops
that produce their own Bt - has
lessened the need for DiPel in those
conventionally grown crop categories,
it remains heavily used in a variety
of specialty crops including vegetables,
fruits, nuts, vines and oil palm. The
product is also labeled in many
countries for use on turf, ornamentals
(greenhouse, field and landscape) and
retail garden and landscape applications.
In almonds, peach twig borer is a major
target. In leafy greens, cabbage looper is
a major concern. Armyworm is a major
problem for several crops.
Today, a major selling point for the
product is its application for organic
growing.
" The large percentage of acres DiPel
goes out on today are organic, " Clay
said. " It was an organic product, but
the business grew out of conventional
(agriculture). "
Diamondback moth has a history of
developing resistance to various pesticides,
including Bt-type pesticides, and for that
pest, Valent recommends using DiPel
with another Valent Bt product, XenTari,
which it markets as " a pure, potent strain
of Bacillus thuringiensis var. aizawai (Bta)
composed of protein crystals and viable
endospores. "
Both DiPel and XenTari are listed with
the Organic Materials Review Institute
(OMRI) as allowed, with restrictions,
for use in organic agriculture. Valent
markets a full line of OMRI-approved
products that includes PyGanic, a contact
insecticide used for quick knockdown of
a broad spectrum of hard-to-kill insect
pests in a variety of crops.
Ongoing trials of the product involve
testing its efficacy against invasive pests
that rise to the top of growers' concerns.
For instance, Clay said, light-brown
apple moth - native to Australia - is
of growing concern for U.S. growers of
grapes and apples. In addition, " We do
continue to test on crops that have been
registered for years, just the one to make
sure that is still working like we say it's
working, " Clay said.
" While we are proud of the brand's
achievements, we continue to innovate and
perfect the product, and believe that the
best is yet to come, " Rosa Gimenez, Valent
BioSciences' global business director of
biorational crop protection, said in a news
release. VGN
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February 2022

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