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New mode of action helps growers in fight against navel orangeworm

SPEAR® LEP is a new mode of action (IRAC Group 32) providing powerful results against navel orangeworm all season long

June 1, 2024

3 Min Read
New MOA tackles navel orangeworm
Submitted by Vestaron

After experiencing the destructive toll of navel orangeworm (NOW) last season, many California almond and pistachio growers are seeking new tools to help them more effectively manage the pervasive foe. From the first NOW flight in late spring through hull split and pre-harvest, tackling NOW requires a season-long view to mitigate yield and quality loss.


The first insecticide since 2007 delivering a new mode of action (IRAC Group 32), SPEAR® LEP is gaining attention as more growers and independent advisors explore options to amp up their Integrated Pest Management plan. Proven performance on 650,000-plus acres as a direct replacement of synthetic pesticides, SPEAR proved it can check the efficacy and economics boxes, says Bill Hume, senior director of sales and strategic accounts with Vestaron.

“As the first novel broad-spectrum mode of action in 15 years, it has no known resistance or cross resistance issues, and provides growers with another much needed tool,” Hume says from his base in Fresno, CA. “Every input decision must deliver ROI, and with SPEAR LEP our customers get very good efficacy and the ultimate in harvest and marketing flexibility with no maximum residue limit (MRL).”

Founded in 2005 and headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, Vestaron R&D is producing a pipeline of powerful active ingredients based on peptides modified from the venom of spiders and other venomous animals. SPEAR LEP targets all lepidopteran pests. Larvae will be destroyed in as little as two days when used in conjunction with a low dose of the widely used insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). More than 800 field trials with SPEAR LEP show performance that is equivalent to conventional insecticides.

Fully biodegradable and highly specific to the target pest, SPEAR LEP is soft on pollinators and has an excellent human and environmental safety profile, with 0-Day Pre-Harvest Interval and 4-Hour Re-entry Interval, which Hume says delivers a whole new level of flexibility.

“Our grower and channel partners need every advantage they can get in this economy, and that in-season flexibility saves time and money, and puts the grower back in control,” he says.


Naturally soft on pollinators, beneficials, and local biodiversity, Vestaron product innovations have earned recognition from the Crop Science Awards and the EPA’s Green Chemistry Challenge – and in 2024 became the first agriculture and food company inducted into the Global CleanTech 100 Hall of Fame. 

“We’re leading a revolution in crop protection, and we don’t say that lightly,” says Ben Cicora, Vestaron’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing. With more than twenty years of experience in senior roles at major crop protection companies, he says the pace of innovation and scale of Vestaron’s pipeline is unlike anything he has seen before.

“We are bringing new AIs to the market at a rapid pace, backed by strong distribution and retail partnerships. We can displace traditional synthetics at a 1:1 ratio while also giving the grower many value-adds, and without compromising on performance,” says Cicora, fresh from a trip to Europe where several countries have issued emergency use authorizations for SPEAR LEP as growers there run out of effective pest management tools. “Our market share in pistachios has grown to double digits, and we see continued growth in almonds and other specialty crops such as tree fruits and vegetables like brassicas. SPEAR LEP and future Vestaron technology is well placed to be the right solution at the right time.”

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