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Protecting Strawberries in Western Australia – safely and sustainably

Lee-Anne and Anthony Yewers have been running Berry Sweet in Western Australia for more than 20 years – and growing sustainably is a top priority.  

“We want to grow more with less resources. I want to leave my farm in as of a good condition as I got it, especially if my kids are the ones who end up taking over,” explains Anthony.

Anthony and Lee-Anne are facing a common challenge with strawberry farming: Botrytis fruit rot, also known as gray mold. The condition is caused by a common fungus, which manifests itself as a velvety gray mold that infects the berries.

The Yewers’ were looking for a solution that was effective -- but as gentle on the soil and environment as possible. They turned to BASF.

BASF has a growing suite of biological crop protection solutions, that consist of naturally occurring microbes or extracts. BASF experts recommended a new product which forms a ‘shield of protection’ against mold without harming beneficial insects. It has no residue or withholding period, thus it can be used right up until harvest so berries can be treated then picked and eaten.

“Our kids can go anywhere on the farm and eat whatever they want, and we don’t have to worry about what they eat, it’s also good for our staff and good for the environment,” said Lee-Anne. 

“I’m excited that chemical companies like BASF are looking at biologicals to help us solve our issues - the more options we have, the better,” Anthony adds.

Supporting the Yewers’ 1.5 million kilogram strawberry harvest is a team effort. That team includes their staff, BASF, and distributer Primaries Midlands.  Because everyone was aware of the challenge, the Yewers knew the product was coming onto the market and ordered it as soon as it was available – becoming the very first to purchase it.

“Communication and timing are key,” said Joel Lancaster, Area Sales Manager Crop Protection Central WA at BASF. “By acting quickly, we were able to ensure the Yewers a Botrytis-free strawberry crop, safely and sustainably. There is nothing more gratifying than supporting farmers in this way.”