Fruit & veg growers could soon have a major new weapon in their armoury to fight disease, thanks to a new fungicide developed by Bayer Crop Science.

After 10 years in development, test results on 13 different fruits & vegetables, including strawberries and apples, revealed the fungicide - called Luna - boosted “production efficiency” from 33% for untreated produce to 71% by slashing wastage levels before and after harvesting, according to Bayer data. Standard fruit treatment programmes had an average production efficiency of 51%.

“Fruit is a highly perishable crop and we believe fluopyram [an active substance contained in Luna] can make a real difference for growers for disease control and crop quality,” said a spokesman for Bayer.

Luna is currently being used by fruit & vegetable farmers in Holland and the United States, but other countries around the world, including more European countries, would gain approvals from 2014 onwards, the spokesman said.

More than £250m had been spent bringing Luna “from discovery to market”.