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Fungicide Could Give Loggers $100m Boost

An Auckland company has developed a new anti-sapstain treatment that could give New Zealand loggers a $100 million-a-year boost in export returns.

Chemcolour Industries (NZ) Ltd industry manager Ian Dorset says the new fungicide has been specially formulated for use on radiata logs under New Zealand conditions.

"Until recently the industry had used materials that were primarily designed for sawn lumber, not logs," Mr Dorset says.

"The materials sit on the log's surface and don't penetrate to the sapstain.”

Sapstain is a fungus that discolours wood.

Mr Dorset says the logging industry estimates that lost revenue resulting from sapstain is about $100 million a year.

"It doesn't look good to loggers' customers, who are mainly overseas.

"The industry needs a treatment that gives 20 weeks protection to export logs, instead of eight-10 weeks, which other methods give.

Our product, called Sentry, has been trialled for two years with Fletcher Challenge Forests.

Koppers Hickson Timber Protection Ltd and Forest Research at Rotorua have been collaborating with us on developing the treatment.

" Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology - invested in the project to develop the fungicide.

The treatment combines two active ingredients, methylene bisthiocyanate and octhilinone, which are mixed in water and sprayed on to the logs.

Because the formulation is mobile it can arrest sapstain pre-infection.

"This means the logs don't need to be processed as quickly, which in turn might generate savings in log extraction costs," Mr Dorset says.

Chemcolour intends to market the product in radiata pine-growing areas such as South Africa, South America and Asia, and has applied for patent protection on the formulations.

The company is based on Auckland's North Shore and employs 45 full-time workers.

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