Research has shown that good coverage rather than application timing
for the Helicoverpa nucleopolyhedrovirus (NPV) biopesticide (commercialised
as Gemstar® and Vivus®), is the key to achieving high levels of
pest control in sorghum.
Queensland Department of Primary Industries researcher Dr Dave Murray
explains: “Helicoverpa NPV is a virus that affects only larvae
of the Helicoverpa/ Heliothis complex. It affects nothing
else and leaves no residues or toxins, and has no impact on non-target
When first released it was thought that evening application would be
best to avoid degradation of the virus by sunlight. Additional research
by Dr Murray and his colleagues on grain sorghum has now shown that the
larvae take up the virus so rapidly that UV degradation is not a concern.
Rather, the most important issue when applying NPV is to ensure good crop
Good coverage has been achieved with both aerial and ground applications.
Aerial applications use high-volume application at 30 litres of water
per hectare, or ultralow volume (ULV) application using total spray volumes
of 3L/ha with petroleum oil as a carrier. Ground rig applications use
up to 100L water/ha with appropriate nozzles and pressure parameters.
Contributing to the good kill rates achieved when using the NPV, is the
increased predation and parasitism; these organisms are killed with conventional
Dr Murray says that NPV should be applied to sorghum plants three days
after 50 percent of the heads have completed flowering, and that it is
not effective against Helicoverpa larvae greater than 13mm. The ideal
larvae size is 7mm or less.
These results are relevant to other crops attacked by Helicoverpa, but
growers must check registrations or permits before application of Helicoverpa
For more information:
Dr Dave Murray, DPI Toowoomba, Qld, 07 4688 1326, Dave.Murray@dpi.qld.gov.au
GRDC RESEARCH CODE DAQ539, program 3