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(2l)Application Number:    KEIPI2009/ 000902   
   
(22) Filing Date: 3III0t2007   
   
(30) Priority data: 0622071.9  061IIt2006    GB
   
(86)  PCT data PCfiEP071009477    3IIl0t2007 wo 2008/055614    15/05!2008

(73) Owner: SYNGENTA PARTICIPATIONS AG of Schwarzwaldallee 215, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland

(72) Inventors: HUBERS, Marcel Jacobus Maria, c/o Syngenta Bergen op Zoom, Jacob Obrechtlaan 3, 4611 AP Bergen Op Zoom, The Netherlands; MOSTERT, Jan Andrianus, c/o Syngenta Bergen op Zoom, Jacob Obrechtlaan 3, 4611 AP Bergen Op Zoom, The Netherlands and WAGEMANS, Franziscus Hubertus, c/o Syngenta Crop Protection AG, Werk Rosenh:ll, Schwarzwaldalle 215, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland.

(74) Agent/address for correspondence: MURIU MUNGAI & COMPANY ADVOCATES, P. 0. BOX 75362-00200, NAIROBI

(54) Title: FLOWERS.

(57) Abstract: The present invention relates to methods for reducing the incidence of Botrytis and improving the shelf life of flowers. In particular, the invention relates to methods for improving the vase life of cut flowers

comprising the application of fungicidal compositions. The invention also relates to methods for improving the shelf life of flowering pot plants comprising the application of fungicidal composition. Further, the invention relates to novel fungicidal compositions.
 
The present invention relates to methods for reducing the incidence of BOi.o!t~.t;.a.~_G'< improving the shelf life offlowers. In particular, the invention relates to mern'OCI~!(o improving the vase life of cut flowers comprising the application of fungicidal compositions. The invention also relates to methods for improving ~e sheJflife of flowering pot plants comprising the application of fungicidal composition. Further, the invention relates to novel fungicidal compositions.

10

The worldwide market for cut flowers is estimated to be in the region of $US70 billion. The market size is growing, and consumers are demanding higher quality flowers that remain fresh for }anger. This consumer-driven demand for large volumes of' high quality flowers that stay looking fresher for longer is applying pressure throughout the supply

15    chain from suppliers and distributors to growers. Accor~ingly, in order to satisfy the increasing demand in bath volume and quality of cut flowers, it is desirable to bofu minimise the loss of flowers that is incurred during the supply cbain, and max-imise the shelf life of flowers.

20    Several criteria are used to assess the quality of cut flowers, including flower senescence, wilting, leaf yellowing, and abscission and loss of leaves, buds, petals and flowers (shattering). Numerous factors contribute to a loss of quality of cut flowers, and result in
poor shelflife. These include poor food or water supply, environmental conditions

(temperature, light, humidity), water quality, ethylene, mechanical damage, and

25    microbial contamination and disease. Each of these factors play a role during both transport and storage of the flowers.

When attached to the plant, flowers have a constant source of food in the form of

carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis.  Cut flowers~ however, are devoid of food,

30    honnones and water supply after detachment from the plant, and depend solely on stored food at fue time of harvest and the application of exogenous sugars. A lackofwater, or inability of the flower to take up water will reduce its vase li~e. Microorganisms that grow on submerged plant tissue can be taken up into the flower stem, and form a physical blockage (a bacterial plug) to water uptake. Ageing in flowers is directly proportional to
 
the rate of respiration, which is dependent on temperature. Storing flowe~•:l!l'a high~r: temperature will result in a much shorter vase life for flowers in water. Exposp.re to. ethylene causes premature wilting or shattering of flowers. Mechanical damage, fOr example caused by rough handling or injury to tissue when cutting flower stems, makes flowers more susceptible to disease, and therefore prone to faster senescence.

A wide range of techniques are already employed today to delay senescence, and improve the shelf life of cut flowers. For example, these include temperature control during shipping, use of novel packaging systems to ensure a availability of good quality
10    water, and use of sugar or biocide-based compositions in vase water.

Chemica[ treatment of cut flowers after harvest is commonly used to improve shelf life. For example, flowers may be treated with an active ingredient such as 1-MCP to combat ethylene-induced post harvest wilting. Alternatively, treatment of cut flowers with

15    kinetin has been shown to delay senescence of carnations. Treatment of daffodil flowers with silver thiosulphate has also been shown to enhance vase life.

One of the key problems that reduces the shelflife of cut flowers is disease infection. However, few chemical treatments are concerned with reducing the incidence of
20    microbial contamination. The most common solution employed for preventing the incidence of disease in vase water is the use of sugar- biocide mixtures that are supplied with flowers. The purpose of these mixtures is to reduce the onset microbial contamination in the vase water, and provide nutrients for the flowers.

25    After harvest, flowers are suscepb'ble to infection by bacteria and fungi. The grey mould Botrytis cinerea, is the most common source of disease in cut flowers. Factors that affect Botrytis infection include the availability of conidia on the flowers, the enviroruneotnl conditions, and the susceptibility of the flowers. Botrytis infection occurs when condensed moisture fonns on the surface of flower tissues. Since cut flowers are

30    routinely shipped at temperatures close to freezing point, it is difficult to prevent water condensing on the flower tissues. It is thought that Botrytis infection may be the single biggest factor in reducing vase life. However, few of the existing treatments effectively address the problem of Botrytis infection.
 
The application of chemical fungicides after harvest, for example by dipping the flower buds into a fungicide solution, has been used to reduce fungal infection for some flower species. However, such treatments leave a fungicide residue on the flower stems and leaves, leading to possible chemical exposure to the conswner. Therefore there exists a need for a method of fungicide treatment that does not leave potentiaUy harmful residues on flower stems. Further, existing treatments are slow and expensive. Therefore there exists a need for a method of Botrytis control in cut flowers that is quick and easy to
applY..

to    Other fungal diseases that are implicated in reducing the vase life of cut flowers include

powdery mildew (Sphaerothecapannosa in roses) andPhytophthora. Both of these

diseases attack the plant leaves, and therefore reduce the quality of the stem such that it is

undesirable to the consumer.

15    Given the size of the high-value cut flower market, there exists a need for methods for fungicide treatment that are more effective. Similarly, there is a need for methods of fungicidal treatment that are more effective in protecting flowering pot plants, that are also susceptible to fungicidal disease such asBotrytis, especially during transportation.

Further still, due to consumer pressure, there exists a continuing need to further improve

20    the vase life of cut flow~rs and shelflife of flowering pot plants.

Surprisingly, it has been found that the application of a fungicide to flowering plants that

are still in bud, results in a significant improvement in the subsequent incidence of fungal

disease on the flowers and in the shelf life of the plants and flowers.  In particular, it has

25    been found that the application of a fungicide to plants before harvesting their flowers results in a significant improvement in the subsequent incidence of fungal disease on the flowers after they have been harvested. Further, the application of fungicide to flowering
plants pre-shipment results in an improvement in the subsequent incidence of fimgal

disease on the plants during transport.  The pre-harvest or pre-shipment application of a

30    mixture oflludioxonil and cyprodinil has been found to be particularly effective. Further, surprisingly, application of a .fungicidal composition to plants before harvesting their flowers, results in an improved vase life of the flowers after they have been harvested. Again, a fungicidal composition comprising fludioxonil and cyprodinil is particularly effective.
 
Pre-harvest application of fungicide would not be expected to be effective at controlling

fungal disease post-harvest, because the flowers are still in bud and so flower petals

cannot be coated with protective fungicide, and als~ because tbe fungicide needs to keep

fungal contamination at bay for longer. Therefore it is truly surprising that a pre-haxvest application is so effective at providing post-harvest fungal control in cut flowers.

US patent US-5,519,026 discloses, inter alia, mixtures offludioxonil and cyprodinil in

general, and describes the synergistic action of these two active ingredients when used in

10    combination. It also indicates that the mixture has fungicidal properties that are useful for protecting plants such as vines and fruit trees against Botrytis cinerea. However, it does not relate to control ofpost~harvest fungal disease. In contrast, the present invention relates to the pre-harvest application of fungicide to provide an improvement in flower vase life post-harvest, and to the pre~shipment treatment of flowering plants to

15    provide a reduction in fungal disease and improvement in plant shelf life during transport. In particular, it relates to the application of fungicide while the flowers are still in bud.

International patent publication W002/067658 relates to extending the shelflife of berry

fruits by pre~harvest treatment of fungicides such as cyprodinil and .fludioxonil. The

20    application of fungicides directly to berry fruits on the plant results in a protective layer of fungicide that coats the fruits and consequently provides protection against fungal infection for the berry fruits after harvest. In contrast, the present invention relates to treating closed flower buds or lreating flowers before they are harvested from the plant

when most of the flowers are still in bud~ rather than coating the surfaces of the flower

25    petals. Since the invention is not concerned wlth treatment with a contact fungicide, it is surprising that it results in good fungal control and improved vase life of the treated flowers.

According to the present invention, th~re is provided a method for improving the shelf

30    life of flowering plants, comprising applying a fungicidal composition in a fungicidaiJy effective amount, to the flowers when they are in bud.
 

According to the present invention, there is also provided a method for improving the vase life of cut flowers, compris!ng applying a fungicidal composition to a flowering plant in a fungicidally effective amoun~ before harvesting flowers from the plant.

In the conteXt of the present invention, a flowering plant is a plant that is capable of producing flowers. The plant does not necessarily need to be in full flower. Preferably, the flowers of the plant are still developing and/or are in bud.

Any flowering plant may be used in conjunction with the present invention.  Examples of

10    common plant species that are used in the cut flower industry include

Agapanthus africanus (Lily oftlle Nile), Alstroemeria, Anemone ('Nindflower),

Anthurium andraeanum (Flamingo Flower), Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon),

Argyranthemumfrutescens (Marguerite Daisy I Boston Daisy), Aster (Michaehnas

Daisy),Bouvardia, Cattleya (Orchid), Chame/aucium uncinatum (Waxflower),

IS Delphinium, (Larkspur), Dendranthema X grandiflo",:um (Chrysanthemum), Dianthis caryophyllus (Carnation), Dianthus barbatus (Sweet WiJJiam), Eustomagrandiflora

(Lisiinthus I Prairie gentian), Freesia, Gentiana (Gentian), Gerbera jamesonii (Gerbera I

Transvaal Daisy), Gladiolus, Gypspphila paniculata (Baby's Breath), Helianthus annuus

(Sunflower), Heliconia h.umilis (Parrot Flower), IriS (FJeur-de-Jis), Lathyrus odoratus

20    (SweetPea),Liatris spicata Gayfeather,Li/ium (Lily I Asiatic Lily I Oriental Lily),

Limonium (Statice), Matthi~la incana (Stock), Narcissus pseudonarcissus (Daffodil),

Oncidium (Orchid), Rosa (Rose e.g. •Maroussia! ', "Grand Prix'), Solidaster luteus (Yellow Aster), Stre{itzia reginae (Bird of Paradise), Tulipa (Tulip), and Zantedeschia
aethiopica (Cala lily). Examples of common plant species fuat are used as flowering pot

25    plants include Pha/aenopsis, Anthurium, Kalanchoe, Chrysanthemum, f(ydrangea, Spathiphyllum, £ilium, Bromelia, Begonia, Poinsettia, Cyclamen, Azalea, Saintpaulia, Gerbera, Primula, Viola (pansy), Petunia, Begonia, Pelargonium) Osteospermum,

Fuchsia, Calluna, Solanum, Erica, Lobelia, Impatiens walleriana, Verbena, Gazania,

Dianthus, Salvia, Brassica, Tagetes, Bellis, Hibiscus, Camelia, Phlox,Abutilon, Canna,

30    Cosmos, Bidens, Myosotis, Lantana, Ranunculus, Antirrhinum, Dahlia, Scaevola, Nicotiana. Ageratum, Zinnia, Lavatera, Pentas, Celosia, Nemesia, and Impatiens New Guinea.
 

In one embodiment, the invention relates to a method for preventing the occurrence, reducing the incidence, or delaying the onset of fungal infection in cut flowers, comprising applying a fungicidal composition to a flowering plant in a fungicidally effective amount, before harvesting flowers from the plant. In a further embodiment, the invention relates to a method for preventing the occurrence, reducing the incidence, or delaying the onset ofBotrytis infection in cut flowers, comprising applying a fungicidal composition to a flowering plant in a fungicidally effective.amount, before harvesting flowers from the plant.

1o In a further embodiment, the invention relates to a method for preventing the occurrence, reducing the incidence, or delaying the onset of fungal infection in flowering pot plants, comprising applying a fungicidal composition to the flowering plant in a fungicidally effective amount, while the flowers are still in bud.

15    Any fungicide having activity against Botrytis may be used in the present invention. For example, the fungicide may be selected from the Jist consisting of cyprodoni~ fludioxonil, bixafen, trifloxystrobin, azoxystrobin, kresoxin~methyl, pyraclostrobin, fluazinam, iprodion, vinclozolin, procymidone, cyproconazole, chlorofualonil, captan, folpcl,

prochloraz, difenoconazoie, tebuconazole, prothidcona.zole, 3-difluorometbyl-1-methyl-

20    IH-pyrazole-4-carboxylic acid(9-isopropyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-1,4-methano-naphthalen-5-yl)-amide and fungicides from the OPA class.

In one embodiment, the composition comprises at least one fungicide selected from the

group consisting of 4-cyclopropyl-6-methyl-N-phenylpyrimidin-2-amine (cyprodinil), 4-

25    (2,2-difluoro-1,3-benzodioxol-4-yl)-pyrrole-3-carbonitrile (fludioxonil), 2-[(2RS)-2-(1-chlorocyclopropyl)•3-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-hydroxypropyl]-2H-1,2,4-triazole-3(4H)-thione (prothioconazole), 2-chloro-N-(4'-chlorobiphenyl-2-yl)nicotinarnide (boscalid), 3-difluoromethyl-1-metbyl-1H-pyra201e-4-carboxylic acid(9-isopropyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro~ 1,4-methano-naphthalen-5-yl)-amide (compound A) and mixtures thereof.

30

The vapour activity and systemicity of the fungicide or mixture of :fungicides may be important factors in determining whether pre-harvest application of the fungicide will successfully increase the shelf life of flowering plants or vase life of the flowers after harvest.

The composition may comprise two-way mixtures of fungicides such as cyprodinil and fludioxonil, cyprociinil and prothioconazole, cyprodonil and boscalid, fludioxonil and prothioconazole, tludioxonil and boscalid, prothioconazole and boscalid, fludioxonil and compound A, cyprodonil and compound A, azoxystrobin and compound A, difenoconazoie and compound A Alternatively, the composition may comprise three-way mixtures, for example of cyprodonil fludioxonil and prothioconazole, cyprodonil fludioxonil and boscalid, fludioxonil prothioconazole and boscalid, cyprodinil prothioconazole and boscalid, and fludioxoniJ, cyprodonil and compound A.

10

In one embodiment, the composition comprises a mixture offludioxonil and cyprodinil. Fludioxonil is a non-systemic phenylpyrrole fungicide with good residual activity. It is not readily taken up into the plant tissues. Cyprodonil is a broad spectrum systemic anilinopyrimidine fungicide that is taken up into plants after foliar application, and then

15 transported throughout the plant tissue and acropetally in the xylem. Mixtures of cyprodinil and .fludioxini1, such as the product Switch®, provide broad spectrum fungal control. Accordingly, the present invention may also be used for control of a range of fungal pests th~t infect flowers such as Botrytis, Alternaria, Ascochyta, Sclerotinia, Stemphylium, Venturia, Monilinia, Sp!taerotheca, Podosphaera, Erysiphe, Levei.lulla,
20    Uncinula, Guigna.rdia, Rhizopus, Trichothecium, Colletotrichum, Penicillium,

Aspergillus and Glomerella.

In one aspect of the invention~ the ratio offludioxonil to cyprodinil in the mixture is approximate!~ 1:1.5. Preferably, the mixture comprises 250g1Kg fludioxonil and

25    375g/Kg cyprodinil. Typically, the mixture may be used at a concentration of between approximately 0.5 and 200 g/L water. The rate at which the fungicidal composition is applied depends on the mode of application, and the flower species being treated. For example, when spray treating roses, a typical rate of 1500Uha may be used. In contrast, when treating the same crop by fogging a rate of20Liha may be employed.

30

In the production of cut flowers, numerous plants are grown simultaneously in large glasshouses. It is inevitable that there will be some natural variation in the timing of flowering, resulting in a range of flower maturity. Flowers are harvested daily) as the flower buds begin to open. Therefore, when applying a fungicidal composition to
 
flowering plants pre-haiVest, most of the flowers will be in bud. However, at any one time, a proportion ofthe flowers will probably be open. Therefore, in one embodiment, at least 50% of the flowers on theplantare in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition. In another embodiment, at least 75% of the flowers on the plant are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition. In further aspects of the invention, at
least 10%,25%, 50%~ 60%,70%,75%,80%, 85%,90% or 95% of the flowers are in bud.

In a further aspect of the invention, most of the flowers are in bud. In a still further aspect of the invention, all of the flowers are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal

composition.

10

In one emb?diment, the flowers are harvested between 0 and 14 days after application of the fungicidal composition. In a further embodiment, the flowers are harvested between
0 and 7 days after application of the fungicidal composition. In further aspects of the inventio~ the flowers are .haiVested 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14 days after
15    application of the fungicidal composition. In a preferred embodiment, the flowers are harvested approximately 7 days_ after application ofthe fungicidal composition.

In one embodiment, the composition is applied once to the plant before harvesting

flowers from the pl211t. ln a further emboiliment, the composition is applied at least once

20    to the plant before harvesting flowers from the plant. In a further embodiment, the composition is applied to the plant mare than once before hanresting flowers from the plant. Typically fungicide treatments are made once per week. In this way, multiple treatments are achieved by treating plants on successive weeks prior to flower harvest. However. a higher frequency of fungicide treatment may be used, for example 2, 3, 4, 5

25    or more than 5 treatments per week. The invention includes fungicide treatment by any suitable method, such as spray, fog, smoke or drench application. Suitably, the fungicidal composition is applied by spray applicaticm.

In one embodiment of the invention, the fungicidal composition is applied to the plant

30    between 2 and S times before harvesting flowers from the plant. In a preferred emboiliment, the composition is applied to the plant 2 times before harvesting flowers from the plant In a further aspect of the invention, llie composition is applied at least 2 ti~es before harvesting flowers from the plant. In further aspects ofthe invention, the
 
composition is applied 2, 3, 4, 5, or more than 5 times before haivesting flowers from the

plant.

For flowering pot plants, there will also be natural variation in the timing of flowering

resulting in a range of flower maturity. Therefore, when applying a fungicidal

composition to flowering plants, most of the flowers will be in bud. However, at any one time, a proportion of the flowers will probably be open. Therefore, in one embodiment, at least 50% of the flowers on the plant are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition. In another embodiment, at least 75% of the flowers on the plant ~e in bud

10    at the time of applying the fungicidal ccnnposition. In further aspects of the invention, at least 10%,25%, 50%,60%, 70%, 75%, 80%,85%, 90% or 95% of the flowers are in bud. In a further aspect of the invention, most of the flowers are in. bud. In a stiU .further aspect of the invention, a11 of the flowers are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition.

IS

Suitably, fungicidal treabnent of flowering pot plants take:> place before they are transported to the distributor or retailer. In one embodiment, _tbe flowering pot plants are transported between. 0 and 14 days after application of the fungicidal ~omposition. In a further embodiment, the flowering pot plants are transported between 0 and 7 days after

20    application of the fungicidal composition. In further aspects of the invention, the flowering pot plants are transported 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 or 14 days after application of the fungicidal composition. In a preferred embodiment, the flowering pot plants are transported approximately 7 days after application of the fungicidal
composition.

25

In one embodiment, the composition is applied once before transporting the flowering pot plant. In a further embDdiment, the composition is applied at least once before transportation. In a further embodiment, the composition is applied to the plant mDre than once before transportation. Typically fungicide treatments are made once per week

30    In this way, multiple treatments are achieved by treating plants on successive weeks prior to plant transportation. However, a higber frequency of fungicide treatment may be used, for example 2, 3, 4, 5 or more than 5 treatments per week. The invention includes fungicide treatment by any suitable method~ such as sprayl fog, smoke or drench application. Suitably, the fungicidal composition is applied by spray application.
 

In one embodiment of tile invention, the fungicidal composition is applied to the plant between 2 and 5 times before transporting the flowering pot plants. In a preferred embodiment, the composition is applied to the plant 2 times before transporting the plants. In a further aspect of the invention, the composition is applied at least 2 times before transporting the planls. In further aspects of the invention, the composition is applied 2, 3, 4, 5, or more than 5 times before transporting the plants.

An additional fungicide may be present in the composition of the present invention, for

10    example to broaden the spectrum of fungal diseases controlled, or to improve the efficacy of the composition. In one embodiment, the composition further comprises at least one compound selected from the group consisting of methyl (E)-2-{2-[6-(2-cyanophenoxy)pyrill!idin-4-yloxy]phenyl}-3-methoxyacrylate (azoxystrobin), 3-chloro-4-[4-methyi-2-(1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-y!methy1)-1,3-dioxolan-2-yl]phenyl-4-chloropheny!

IS ether (difenoconazo1e), methyl N-(methoxyacety!)-N-(2,6-xy!yl)-D-alaninate (mefenoxam I metalaxy!-M), (±)-1-(.B-ally!oxy-2,4-dich!orophenylethyl)imidazo!e (imazilil), (RS)-1-p-chlorophenyl-4,4-dimethyi-3-(1H-1,2,4-triazo1-1-ylmethyl)pentan-3-ol (tebuconazole), and (2RS,3RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(IH-1,2,4-triazo!-1-yl)pentan-3-ol (paclobutrazole).

20

In a preferred embodiment, the composition further comprises at least difenoconazole or azoxystrobin.

According to the present invention, there is provided a composition comprising

25    cyprodinil, fludioxonil and difenoconazole in a fungicidally synergistic amount. According to the present invention, there is provided a composition comprising cyprodinil, fludioxonil and azoxystrobin in a fungicidally synergistic amount. According to the present invention, there is provided a composition comprising cyprodinil, fludioxonil and compound A in a fungicidally S)'Ttergistic amount.

30

According to the present invention, there is provided a method for improving the vase life of cut flowers, comprisi~g a) applying a first fungicidal composition to a flowering plant at time Tl in a fungicidaJly effective amount; b) applying a second fungicidal composition to the plant at time T2 in a fungicidally effective arnountj c) optionally

repeating steps a) and b); and d) haiVesting flowers from the plant between 0 and 7 days after the last application of a fungicidal composition. The method of rotating different fungicidal compositions may be useful to provide control against a broader spectrum of fungal pathogens, to minimise the incidence of resistance, and to make more than one fungicide treatment in a week. Times TI and T2 may be at different times on the same day, on subsequent days, or one or more days apart. Table 1 provides some examples of timings for Tl and 1'2.

Table I

TimeTl    TimeT2
   
Day! moming    Day 1 afternoon
   
Day!    Day2
   
Day!    Day3
   
Day!    Day4
   
Day!    DayS
   
Day!    Day6
   
Day!    Day7
   
Day!    DayS
   

10

In one embodiment, the first fungicidal composition comprises fludioxonil and cyprodinil, and the second fungicidal composition comprises compound A and/or boscalid and/or prothioconazole. Other suitable fungicide rotations may also be used in this method in accordance with this invention. For eXample, the .first fungicidal

15    composition may comprise fludioxonil and cyprodinil, and the second fungicidal composition may comprise azoxystrobin. In another example, the first fungicidal composition ~ay comprise tludioxonil and cyprodinil, and the second fungicidal composition may comprise difenaconazole. In a further example, the first fungicidal

composition may comprise compound A, and the second fungicidal composition may

20    comprise azoxystrobin.

!none embodiment, at least 50% of the floweJ:S on the plant are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition in accordance with this method. In another embodiment, at least75% of the flowers on lhe plant are still in bud at the time of
 
applying the fungicidal composition. In further aspects of the invention, at least 10%, 25%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% or 95% of the Dowers are in bud. In a further aspect of the invention, most of the flowers are in bud, In a still further aspect of
the invention, all ofthe flowers are in bud.

According to the present invention, there is provided a method for improving the vase life of cut flowers, comprising a) spraying a fungicidal composition comprising fludioxonil and cyprodinil on a flowering plant in a fungicidally effective amount; b) optionally repeating step a); c) applying a fungicidal composition comprising fludloxonil

10    and cyprodinil to the flowering plant in a fungicidally effective amount by fogging; d) optionally repeating step c); and e) harvesting flowers from the plant between 0 and 7 days after the last application of a fungicidal composition. The time interval between each fungicidal treatment is selected in accordance with the species of flowering plant

being treated, and the stage of maturity of the plant. In one aspect of the invention, the

15    time interval between each fungicidal treatment is'Iess than I day, 1 day, 2 days, 3, days, 4 days, 5, days, 6 days, 7 days or more than 7 days. In a preferred embodiment, the time interval between each fungicidal treatment is approximately 7 days.

In one embodiment, at least 50% of the flowers on the plant are in bud at the Hme of

20    applying the fungicidal composition in accordance with this n:J.ethod. In another embodiment, at least 75% of the flowers on the plant are still in bud at the time of
applying the fungicidal composition.  In further aspects of the invention, at least 10%,

25%~ 50%~ 60%,70%,75%, 80%, 85%,90% or 95% of the flowers are in bud, Ina further aspect of the invention, most of the flowers are in bud; In a still further aspect of

25    the invention, all of the flowers are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition.

According to the present invention, there is provided a method for improving the vase

life of cut flowers, comprising applying a fungicidal composition comprising fludioxonil

30    and cyprodinil in a fungicidally effective amount to the flowers when they are in bud. The invention extends to the fungicidal treatment of cut flowers that are still in bud after harvest from the plant.
 
In one embodiment, at least 50% of the flowers are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition in a~:cordance with this method. In another embodiment, af least 75% of the flowers are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition. In further aspects ofthe invention, at least 10%, 25%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%, 90% or 95% of the flowers are in bud. In a further aspect of the invention, most of the flowez:s are in bud. In a still further aspect ofthe invention, all of the flowers are in bud at the time of applying the fungicidaJ composition.

According to the present invention, there is provided a method lor improving the shelf

10    life of flowering plants, comprising applying a fungicidal composition comprising fludioxonil and cyprodinil in a ftmgicidally effective amount to the flowers when they are in bud.


15    EXAMPLES

Example 1: Field performanc:e ofSwitcb®  on rose '1\1aroussla!'

1.1  Trial design

Trials were designed to test the effect of pre-harvest treatment of the rose 'Maroussia!'

20    with Switch®  in the greenhouse, on Botrytis infection and vase life.

The following 4 treatments were used: No treatment control

Rovral®  (iprodione) 0.1%

25    Switch® (fludioxonil + cyprodinil) 0.08% Switch® fog

Each treatment was assessed at each of the following harvest time points:

?DATI    One fungicide application, harvest 7 days after application
307DAT2    2 fungicide applications, haxvest 7 days after znd application
7DAT3    3 fungicide applications, harvest 7 days after 3rd application
7DAT4    4 fungicide applications, harvest 7 days after 4lh application
7DAT5    5 fungicide applications, harvest 7 days after 5lh application
14DAT5    5 fungicide applications, harvest 14 days after 5lh application
 
100 stems were harvested for each treatment at each harvest time point. The flowers were bWlched and labelled, then subjected to nonnal grower handling procedures, and transported to auction. Analysis of the flowers then took place at a test centre.

At the test centre, the flowers were wrapped in plastic sheets in bunches of 10 stems, and the bunches placed in a vase containing an aqueous solution contajning aluminium sulphate and surfactant. The vase was placed in a container with 5 other vases containing
flowers.  The containers were subjected to cold storngc for 4 days at 8°C and 60%

10    relative humidity. The containers were placed close together to simulate a stacking cart. These conditions were designed to simulate typical flower transport and storage conditions.

1.2 Assessment ofBotrytis infection and vase life

15    The bottom leaves were removed, the stems cut, and the flowers placed in vases containing cut flower food (Chrysal Clear 1Og.IL) dissolved in water .. Five stems were placed in each vase, and the vases were stored under controlled conditions of20°C, 60%

relative humidity, 12 hours light (1000 Lux) and 12 hours dark. For each treabnent at each harvest time point twenty vases (100 flowers) were tested. On day 7, lJotryiis
20    infection ofa11 flowers was assessed. Flowers bearing brownBotryti.s spots of at least lcm in diiuneter were identified as being infected.

Further, for each treatment at each harvest time point, 4 of the twenty vases were selected at random to assess vase life. The flowers in the selected vases were examined according
25    to VBN standards three times each week.

/.3  Trial results

Table 2: Average Botryti.s infection per treatment(%)

Treatment    7DAT!    7DAT2    7DAT3    7DAT4    7DAT5    !4DAT5
                       
I    41    62 (h)    65    65    48 (h)    84
                       
2    43 (h)    55    60 (h)    17*    !6.5*    47* (h)
                       
3    17*    19*    31*    37*    II*    17*
                       
4    83*    46    54    16*    27*    7l(h)
                       
 
(h) High variability in data (data points include extremes ofO% and 100% Botrytis

infection)

• Statistically significant (p < 0.05)

Table 3: Average (mean) vase life per treatment (days)

Treatment    7DAT1    7DAT2    7DAT3    7DAT4    7DAT5    14DAT5   
                           
1    12.1 (v)    10.65    11.8    10.35    8.2    7.8   
                           
2    15.9    9.35    14.85    13.85    15.05*    11.85 (v)   
                           
3    18.2*    14.85*    !0.85    13.7    15.65*    18.15*   
                           
4    8.8 (v)    9.85    14.1    17.4*    !3.15    12.75 (v)   
    ..                       
                           
(v) H1gh vanab1htym data (one or more datapomts lie more than 40Yo away from the   
                    '       
mean).                           

*Statistically significant (p < 0.05)

10    1.4  Trial Summary

The data indicates that treatment 3 (Switch® spray) was the best treatment for both reducing Botrytis infection, and improving vase life ofroses after harvest. Additionally, the data indicates that treatment 3 produced a longer lasting effect that the other
treatments.

15

Example 2: Field performance of Switch®  upder different treatment regimes on

rose 'Maroussia!'

2.1  Trial design

20    Trials were d~igned to test the effect of different pre-harvest treatment regimes and multiple applications of Switch® in the greenhouse on Botrylis infection and vase life of flowers of the rose 'Maroussia! • after harvest.

The following 4 treatments were used:

No treatment control

2 Switch®  0.08% (6 applications in 6 subsequent weeks)

Fungicide rotation: Switch® 0.08% (2 applications), then Ortiva® 0.08% (2 applications), then SWitch® 0.08% (2 applications)
 
.4    Multiple application methods: Switch®  spray 0.08% (2 applications)1  then

Switch®  fog (4 applications)

Each treatment was assessed at each of the following harvest time points:

7DATI    One fungicide application, harvest 7 days after application

7DAT2    2 fungicide applications1  harvest 7 days after 2nd application

7DAT3    3 fungicide applications1  harvest 7 days after 3rd application

7DAT4 4 fungicide applications, harvest 7 days after 41 application h

7DAT5    5 fungicide applications, hruvest 7 days after slh appiication

tO 7DAT6 6 fungicide applications, harvest 7 days after 61 application h

!4DAT6 6 fungicide applications, harvest 14 days after 61 application h

Flowers were harvested and treated in the same way as described in Example L Further, assessment ofBotrytis infection was perfonned in the same way as in Example 1.

IS

2.2  Trial results

Table 4: Average Botrylis infection per treatment (Oio)

        Treatment    7DATI    7DAT2    7DAT3    7DAT4    7DATS    7DAT6        14DAT6   
                                                               
        I    96    67 (h)    94    56        59 (h)        82                95   
                                                           
        2    74(h)    46(h)    75* (h)    42(h)        35        48* (h)    74*   
                                                       
        3    59 (h)    32    57*    43 (h)        51 (h)    49* (h)            58* (h)   
                                                       
        4    66    31    69*    15*        54 (h)    62(h)        88   
            ..                                                   
                            0                               
        (h) Htgh vanabtltty m data (data pomts mclude extremes ofOYo and 100% Botrytcs   
        infection)                                                       
20• Statistically significant (p < 0.05)                                           
        Table 5: Average (mean) vase life per treatment (days)                                       
                                                   
        Treatment    7DATI    7DAT2    7DAT3    •7DAT4        7DAT5        7DAT6        14DAT~   
                                                               
        I    6.45    8.9    4.05    9.4        8.65        7.6                    5.1 (v)   
                                                           
        2    6.75    9.15    11.65*    12.8        10.9        7.2                8.0   
                                                       
        3    6.95    12.1    8.8*    12.9        JI0.2    10.45                    7.9 (v)   
                                                           
        4    8.4    11.4    7.6(v)    15.35*    . 10.55        10.95                    7.3 (v)   
                                                               

(v) High variability in data (one or more data points lie more than40% away from the mean).
*Statistically significant (p < 0.05)

2.3  Trial Summa1y

There was a fa.idy high JeveJ of variation in both Botrytis infection and vase life for all treatments at all time points. This variation may be caused by differences in natural

Botrytis infection, differences in the amount of fungicide received by each flower, differences in the micro climate around individual flowers, and/or differences in flower

10    sensitivity.

Despite the variation, however, the data indicates that all treatments reduced Botrytis infection at aJJ time points. Further~ all the treatments resulted in a better vase life than flowers of the control. Notably, the vase life data for treatments 2 and 3 at time point

15    7DAT3, and treatment 4 in time point 7DAT4 was found to be statistically significant (p

<    0.05). Overall, pre-harvest treatment offlowers with Switch® (iluclioxonil/ cyprodinil mixture- treatment 2) reduced Botrytis infection and improved vase life. Further, pre-harvest treatment of flowers using a fungicide rotation ofSwitch and Ortiva® (azox.ystrobin) also reduced Botrytis infection and improved vase life.

20

Example 3:  Field performance of various fungicides on rose 'Maroussia!'

3.1 Trial design

Trials were designed to test the effect of different fungicides applied to the rose

25    'Maroussia!' pre-harvest in the greenhouse, on Botrytis infection.

The following treatments were used: Control
2    Switch®  (fludioxonil + cyprodinil) 0.08%

30    Ortiva® (azoxystrobin) 0.08% Score® (difenoconazole) 0.035%

Score®  (difenoconazole) 0.07%

6    Switch®  0.08% +Score®  (difenoconazole) 0.035%
 

Each treatment was assessed at each of the following harvest time points.:

?DATI    One fungicide application, harvest 7 days after application

7DAT2    2 ftmgicide applications, harvest 7 days after 2nd application

7DAT3    3 fungicide applications, harvest 7 days after 3rd application

14DAT3    3 ftmgicide applications, harvest 14 days after 3rd application

Flowers were harvested and treated in the same way as described in Example 1. Further, assessment of Botrytis infection was perfonned in the same way as in Example 1.

10    3.2  Trial results

Table 6: Average Botrytis infection per treatment(%)

Treatment    ?DATI    7DAT2    7DAT3    14DAT3
I    83    75    83        55
                   
2    78    54    63        57
                   
3    82    61    78        40
                   
4    97    79    84        45
5    90    64    78        57
                   
6    62    45    6!        26
                   

3.3  Trial summary

The results indicate that the pre-harvest application of fungicide results in a lower

15    incidence of Botrytis infection in cut flowers after harvest In particular, two or more pre-harvest applications of fungicide results in good reductions in Bobytis infection.
Further, treatment wifu mixtures of Switch® (fludioxonil and cyprodinil) and Score® (difenoconazole) (treatment 6) results in particularly good levels of Bolrytis control.

20

Example 4:  Field performance of Switch®  on various ro'se varieties

4.1  Tn"al design

Trials were designed to test the effect of Switch® applied to six different rose varieties (Grand Prix, Aqua!, Maroussia!, Artemis) Cinderella and Avalanche) pre-harvest in the

25    greenhoUSe, on Botrytis infection. For variety 'Grand Prix', roses were tested from three different growers.
 

The following treatments were used:

Control

Switch®  (llu?ioxonil + cwrodinil) 0.08%

Each treatment was assessed at each of the following harvest time points:

?DATI    One fungicide application, harvest 7 days afier application

7DAT2    2 fungicide applications, harvest 7 days after 2nd application

7DAT3    3 fungicide applicationsJ harvest 7 days after 3rd application

10    Flowers were harvested and treated in the same way as described in Example 1, except that only 4 vases (20 stems) were tested in each treatmenL Further, assessment of Botrytis infection was performed in the same way as in Example 1.

4.2  Trial results

15    Table 7: AverageBotrytis infection per treatment(%)

Variety    ?DATI    7DAT2    7DAT3
                       
    Control    Treated    Control    Treated    Control    Treated
                       
Grand Prix (1)    55.4    36.7    40.0    25.0-    3.3    3.3
                       
Grand Prix (2)    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0
                       
Grand Prix (3)    5.0    0.0    6.7    0.0    1.7    1.7
                       
Aqua!    0.0    0.0    0.6    0.0    nd    nd
                       
Maroussia!    68.3*    38.3*    61.7*    23.3*    53.3*    8.3*
                       
Artemis    8.8*    0.0*    23.3    12.1    21.7    6.7
                       
Cinderella    0.0    0.0    0.0    0.0    31.7*    10.0*
                       
Avalanche    20.0    11.7    28.3*    1.7*    36.7*    !.7*
                       
nd-no data

• Statistically significant (p < 0.05)

Table 8: Average(mean) vase life per treatment (days)

Variety        7DAT1        7DAT2        7DAT3
                       
    Control    Treated    Control    Treated    Control    Treated
                                   
Grand Prix (1)    8.7        12.3    7.7*        13.9*    8.0        8.3
                                   
Grand Prix (2)    13.9        16.3    17.7        16.3    17.1        18.1
                                   

Variety        7DAT1    7DAT2    7DAT3
    Control    Treated    Control    Treated    Control    Treated
                           
Grand Prix (3)    11.8        11.6    5.8    5.7    8.6    10.2
                           
Aqual    7.3        8.5    12.7*    7.0*    nd    nd
Maroussia!    6.7*        8.1*    6.5*    9.9*    6.8*.    9.9*
                           
Artemis    19.8*        24.9*    12.4    14.5    16.2    16.7
                           
Cinderella    5.7        6.2    u•    10.0*    8.1    6.4
Avalanche    10.7        9.9    8.5    9.3    11.9    14.3
                           
nd=no data

• Statistically significant (p < 0.05)

4.3  Trial summary

The results indicate that reduced incidence of Botrytis infection in cut flowers after harvest, following treatment with Switch® pre~harvest, is observed in all six rose species tested. The r-esults also show that, for most varieties at most data points, the vase life of treated flowers is bette,r than that of untreated flowers. Some variability is inevitable. The only notable exception was observed in variety 'Aqual', in which the vase life of the
10    treated flowers at 7DAT2 was less than that of the untreated flowers. This is probably an anomalous result due to variability in the data, and the sma11 sample size.
 


CLAIMS

1.    A method for improving the shelf life of flowering plants, comprising applying a

.fi.mgicidal composition in a fungicidally effective amount, to the flowers when they are in bud.

2.    A method according to claim I, wherein the composition comprises at least one fungicide selected from the group consisting of 4~cyclopropyl-6-metbyl-N­ phenylpyrimidin-2-amine {cyprodinil), 4-{2,2-difluoro-1,3-benzodioxol-4-yl)-pyrrole-3-carbonitrile (fludioxonil), 2-[(2RSJ-2-(!-chlorocyclopropyl)-3-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-hydroxypropyl]-2H-1,2,4-triazole-3(4H)-thione (prothioconazole), 2-chloro-N-(4'-chlorobipheoyl-2-yl)nicotinarnide (boscalid), 3-difluoromethyl-1-methyi-!H-pyrazole-4-carboxylic acid{9-isopropyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-1,4-methano-naphtha.len-5-yl)-amide and mixtures thereof.

3.    A method according to claim 2, wherein tbe composition comprises a mixture of fludioxonil and cyprodinil.

4.    A method according to any of claims 1 to 3, wherein at least 50% ofthe flowers on the plant are in bud at the time of applying the .fungicidal composition.

5.    A method according to claim 4, wherein at least75% of the flowers on the plant are still in bud at the time of applying the fungicidal composition.

6.    A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the flowe~ are harvested from the plant after application of the fungicidal composition.

7.    A method according to claim 6, wherein the flowers are harvested between 0 and 7 days after application of the fungicidal composition.

8.    A method accorcting to claim 7, wherein the flowers are harvested approximately 7 days after application of the fungicidal composition.
 

9.    A method according to claim 6, wherein the composition is applied to the plant more than once before harvesting flowers from the plant.

10.    A method according to claim 9, wherein the composition is applied to the plant

Oetween 2 and 5 times before harvesting flowers from the plant.

11.    A method according to claim 10, wherein the composition is applied to the plant 2 times before hruvesting .flowers from the plant.

12.    A method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the composition is applied by spray application.

13.    A method for improving the vase life of cut flowers, comprising:

a)    applying 2. first fungicidal composition to a flowering plant at time Tl in a fungicidally effective amount,

b)    applying a second fungicidal composition to the plant at timeT2 in a fungicidally effective amount,

c)    optionally repeating steps a) and b), and

d)    harvesting flowers from Lhe plant between 0 nnd 7 days after the last application of a fungicidal composition.

14.    A method according to claim 13, wher.ein the first fungicidal composition comprises fludioxonil and cyprodinil, and the second fungicidal composition comprises 3-di.fluoromethyl-1-methyl-lH-pyrazole-4-carboxylic acid(9-isopropyl-1,2.3,4-tetrahydro-1,4-methano-naphthalen-5-yl)-amide and/or boscalid and/or protbioconazole.

15.    A method for improving Lhe vase life of cut flowers, comprising:

a)    spraying a fungicidal composition comprising fludioxonil and cyprodinil on a flowering plant in a fungicidally effective amount,

b)    optionally repeating step a),

c)    applying a fungicidal composition comprising fludioxonil and cyprodinil to Lhe flowering plant in a fungicidally effective amount by fogging,
d)    optionally repeating step c), and
 



e)    harvesting flowers from the plant between 0 and 7 days after the last application of a fungicidal composition.

16.    A method according to anyone of claims 13 to 15, wherein at least 50% of the flowers on the plant are in bud at the time of applying the last fungicidal composition before the flowers are harvested.

17.    A meLhod according to claim 2 or 3 wherein the composition further comprises at least one compound selected from the group consisting of methyl (E)-2-{2-[6-(2-cyanophenoxy)pyrimidin-4-yloxy]phenyl)-3-methoxyacrylate (a¥>xystrobin), 3-chloro-4-[4-methyl-2-{!H-1,2,4-triazol-1-ylmethyl)-1,3-dioxolan-2-yl]phenyl-4-chlorophenyl ether (difenoconazole), methyl N-(methoxyacetyl)-N-{2,6-xylyl)-D-alaninate (mefenoxam I metalaxyl-M), 2-chloro-N-(4'-chlorobiphenyl-2-yl)nicotinamide (boscalid), (±)-1-(11-allyloxy-2,4-dicblorophenylethyl)imidazole (imazilil), (RS)-1-p-chlorophenyl-4,4-dimethyl-3-{1H-l ,2,4-triazol-1-ylmethyl)pentan-3-ol (tebuconazole), 2-[{2RS)-2-{l-chlorocyclopropyl)-3-(2-chlorophenyl)-2-hydroxypropyl]-2H-1,2,4-triazo!e-3(4H)-thione (protbioconawle) and (2RS,3RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)pentan-3-ol {paclobutrazole).

18.    A method according to claim 17, wherein the additional compound is difenoconazole.

19.    A composition comprising cyprodinil, iludioxonil and difenoconazole in a fungicidally synergistic amount.

20.    A method according to claim 17, wherein the additional fungicidal compound is azoxystrobin.

21.    A composition comprising cyprodinil, fludioxonil and azoxystrobin in a fungicidally synergistic amount.

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