At fruit focus 2022, Engage Crop Solutions launched Fortify Maxx. Building on the success of their Fortify platform of market leading biostimulatory technologies such as Fortify Cu and Fortify XD, Fortify Maxx introduces a brand new technology, Phenophites.
Fortify Maxx™ has been in development since early 2016 as Engage began the hunt for natural alternative stimulants to inorganic versions within their Fortify range, phosphites being one example, to support crops under oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is still the number one disorder which reduces the overall yield and quality potential for fruit crops across the world. Growers can supply exactly what fruit crops require for optimal growth, fruit set, and fruit development however their crops are still at the mercy of growth limiting factors such as extremes in low or high temperatures, high and low humidity, deficient or excessive rainfall, adverse weather conditions, water pH and salinity, heavy metals, ultraviolet radiation and even pathogenic pressure.
All of these factor have the potential to create oxidative stress within cells and regularly do. All crops are under stress of some kind on a daily basis however normally the plant can cope with low levels however once levels of stress exceed these levels different mechanisms are triggered.
So, what is oxidative stress and why do we need to reduce its effects on crops?
Simply put is a complex chemical and physiological disorder which accompanies virtually all biotic and abiotic stresses in higher order plants. It develops as a result of the overproduction and accumulation of compounds known as reactive oxygen species (ROS).
ROS are regarded as by-products of plant aerobic metabolism and are generated in several cellular organelles within cells. Overproduction of ROS leads to DNA damage, the catalysation of calcium for stress relief rather than growth, cellular potassium leakage and will eventually and will lead to cellular death if left unchecked.
Dedicated research by the nutritional industry over the past 30 years (but possibly in use for thousands of years) has proven that using plant extracts high in phenolic compounds can reduce stress. Seaweed is a great example of this in that that provides phenolic compound such as flavonoids, vitamins, amino acids, phenolic acids, phytohormones, tannins, lignans, and coumarins to crops and its use is widespread across the world to help support crop health and there are many other natural plant extracts that do a similar job in support of crop health.
Engage with Fortify Maxx are taking this further, so rather than providing extracts from other plant species to try and support the stress relief system, Fortify Maxx™ uses specific plant extracts to stimulate plants to generate more phenolic compounds itself. This way the compounds are far more in tune with the plants chemistry and physiology and therefore more effective at reducing the production of ROS, allowing plants far less susceptible to damage from oxidative stress.
So, what is Fortify Maxx ?
It is a package of three chelated micronutrients and unique to Engage, plant extracts called ‘Phenophites’ taken from specific plant species naturally attuned to withstanding higher levels of abiotic and biotic stress. The nutritional/phenophite package work together to increase the natural production of phenolic compounds from secondary pathways to significantly limit a plants susceptibility to stress of any kind.
Fortify Maxx has been in trials across Europe with focused work at UJI International, Spain and results so far have been extremely positive in elevating phenolic compounds.
Mark Horner, technical lead at Engage explains.
‘We have run the formulation of Fortify Maxx many times at UJI due to their ability to measure the elevation of specific phenolic compounds. We know specific phenolic compounds are highly elevated once Fortify Maxx begins stimulating the plant. These compounds have been found to be 36 times the normal levels when compared to other stress relieving compounds and their effects on the reduction of oxidative ROS species in both invitro and field trials has been very exciting’
Engage now move to larger field scale trials and are looking to work with selected growers across the world to look at individual stresses. The product is also now commercially available via Engage and its distribution partners across Europe.