Growers Have New Tools to Help Control Troublesome Pests from Attacking Crops

Vestaron Spear-Lep

Crop protection is a critical need for growers and they now have new options provided by Vestaron Corporation and its Spear® family of bioinsecticides based on a naturally occurring peptide and produced using the company’s proprietary fermentation platform.

The company has been engaged in research and product development for more than 15 years and began commercialization of its products in 2018. Vestaron’s initial focus is on a class of peptides that kills insect pests efficiently, but is safe for humans, birds, fish, pollinators and the environment. The company has developed a proprietary platform for peptide optimization and fermentation-based peptide production that will allow development of a wide variety of biologic crop protection solutions. Vestaron is dedicated to improving the safety, efficacy and sustainability of crop protection through migration from chemical pesticides to biological peptides.

Eric Hammons is leading this effort for Vestaron in the southeast with the launch of Spear and Spear® LEP. “The Spear molecule was granted a new Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC) Group (32), the first in over 10 years,” noted Hammons, who is working with leafy vegetable, cucurbits, citrus, and blueberry and strawberry growers in the southeast. IRAC was formed in 1984 and is a specialist technical group of the CropLife industry association, providing a coordinated industry response to prevent or delay the development of resistance in insect ad mite pests.

Within the southeast vegetable and specialty market, Hammons efforts concentrate “on lepidoptera and soft bodied insects, including aphids, thrips, spotted wing drosophila and two-spotted spider mites,” he said. “Be-sides a new IRAC group that allows a balanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach while extend-ing traditional chemistry, both Spear and Spear®-T are beneficial insect and pollinator safe, have a four-hour re-entry time, zero post day harvest interval and are both measurable residue level exempt’

Vestaron has registered and released two formulations of Spear bioinsecticides in the U.S. The first, Spear-T, is a concentrated liquid formulation designed for contact activity against a broad range of insect and mite pests in the greenhouse. Spear LEP, the second domestic product, targets lepidopteran (caterpillar) pests in out-door and indoor crops where a reduced rate of Spear is applied with a synergist (Bt) to achieve efficacy through ingestion.

Vestaron products have gained significant recognition, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Challenge Chemistry Award for incorporating the principles of green chemistry design into chemical design, manufacture and use. This year, Vestaron was ranked among the top 50 growth-stage companies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at its Agricultural Outlook Forum and the company was also listed among 2020 Global Cleantech 100 companies, private, independent and for-profit companies best positioned to contribute to a more digitized, de-carbonized and resource-efficient industrial future.

The company continues “with local independent re-search and university data, and conducting more trials and demonstrations in the area,” said Hammons, A U.S. Navy veteran, with more than 24 years of experience in agriculture, including animal production, seed sales, biostimulants, fertilizer and crop protection. He and his wife Shelley have two children, daughter Sloan and son Lance. The Hammons are area residents.



 In The Field Magazine
 Jim Frankowiak