Despite a number of name changes Chipco Green, Bayer Environmental Science's top selling contact fungicide for turf, is celebrating 25 years at the top.
In the late 1970's and early '80's not many compounds had approval for fungi control in the amenity sector. Those that did gave a good long-term systemic control but provided very little contact efficacy.
Mercurous Chloride also had full approval at this time for treatment of most turf diseases. It proved to offer a good contact control but, was extremely dangerous to handle and hazardous for the public. Soon mercury-based products were to be banned for use on all crops.
Rovral Turf WP launched In 1981, under the brand name of Rovral Turf WP, May and Baker (M&B) introduced a totally new contact acting fungicide for use on managed turf. Contact action was significant as it is the only really effective treatment on dormant turf.
Rovral Turf WP was launched with full approval for use on sports and amenity turf under the old voluntary registration scheme PSPS (the Pesticide Safety Precaution Scheme) in 1981. The formulation was a grey coloured wettable powder containing 50% iprodione.
M&B in the UK quickly saw the benefit of the liquid formulation of iprodione (code named 26019RP) that was being launched into the agricultural and horticultural markets, for the control of Botrytis and other fungal diseases, and so development work was undertaken to replace Rovral Turf WP with a more convenient liquid.
Graham Paul at that time, Technical Services Manager at M&B, was involved directly in the user trials stage where Greenkeepers applied the product under supervision of Regional Development Officers based throughout the UK and Ireland. "There were six RDO's and myself conducting these trials," Paul says, "and the results were sent to me for summarising. My report on these trials was used as part of the submission for registration of Rovral Green, which was launched in late 1982'."
The 'Green' not only reflected the colour of the formulation but also the greening up effect that occurs when Rovral was applied to turf in the winter.
It was also noted at this time that the greens shed the early morning dew for about 7 to 10 days after application of Rovral Green. This side effect is due to the oils in the formulation that alter the surface tension on the leaf surface and prevent dew droplets from forming. In practice, it meant that it was unnecessary to 'switch' the greens for a period after application - a practice that is done to dry the greens in the early morning as a disease prevention measure.
"Around this time," comments Bob Bolland Chairman of Amenity Land Services a distributor of Rovral/Chipco Green, "a number of compounds appeared on the market, sold under different names such as Carbendazim and thiabendazole. These products also did a good job but did not have the quick control of most turf diseases that Rovral Turf gave."
Same formulation, new owners 1988 the May & Baker name was dropped as parent company Rhône Poulenc became denationalised and its companies worldwide were renamed to create a stronger, more saleable corporate identity.
12 years later, in January 2000, as a result of the merger of Rhône Poulenc Agriculture Ltd and Agrevo, Rovral Green became a brand owned by Aventis.
In June 2002 Aventis was in turn taken over by Bayer. By January 2003 the product name, which had remained the same for over 21 years, was changed to Chipco Green, bringing the branding in line with US and European marketing.
Still number 1
Today, Chipco Green is used on some of the most prestigious sports grounds and golf courses around the world, making the product a truly Global player. It has been manufactured to the same formulation since it was first produced in liquid form, as Rovral Green in early 1982.
"I have been involved with Rovral/ Chipco Green since inception," says Paul Clifton, Bayer Environmental Sciences National Sales Manager. "I've seen many turf fungicides enter the market during that time and tried by turf managers, but most people return to the brand due to it's reliability, broad spectrum disease control and the speed of it's contact action."
He continues "It really is an exceptional product to have been THE No.1 selling turf fungicide in it's first season of launch and ever since for 25 years. We, at Bayer, are very proud of the product and it's success. We would like to sincerely thank all who have supported Rovral/ Chipco Green for what has now been a quarter of a century."
Chipco Green is also unique in that, in contrast to chlorothalonil based fungicides, it can be applied via knapsack sprayers.
As far as Bob Bolland is concerned, the main disease of turf is fusarium, which always becomes a problem in the cooler period in autumn. The increase in wet conditions sees greater prevalence of the disease, leading to treatments often having to be applied in uncertain weather and here the extreme rainfastness of Chipco Green proves invaluable.
And of course all this occurs at the same time that fine turf renovation takes place. Large amounts of top dressings are applied, usually as late as October or early November, which triggers outbreaks of the disease far too late for the grass to recover from the scarring caused, and leaving the surface uneven for the winter golf period.
"Many a green keeper has been saved from an angry membership by using Chipco Green," Bolland believes.
Many Greenkeepers have used Rovral Green/Chipco Green since its launch; some were asked why they have remained loyal all this time. David Rawlins, the Course Manager from Chelmsford Golf Club gave a response that was typical of most:
"Reliability is the key to my continued use of this fungicide. If Fusarium is not treated promptly and effectively you can be left with months of unsightly scars. I believe you should switch between fungicide products to prevent disease resistance from developing and I have always practised this, using fungicides with different active ingredients each time I have to spray. I always get good results from using Rovral/Chipco Green. It is 'eco friendly' and quickly deals with the problem of winter Fusarium that can devastate a golf green."