A price cut in a well-known branded sugar beet herbicide is welcome news for hard-pressed producers.

But in a potentially shrinking and competitive market where generic products are widely used it is unlikely there is much scope for other reductions.

The good news is DuPont’s Debut (trisulfuron-methyl) will be 15% cheaper this season than last year.

“Anything helps,” says Broom’s Barn’s Mike May.

“We don’t expect to see any other reductions – in fact prices of other herbicides could go up because there could be a smaller crop area and energy prices have risen.”

DuPont’s decision, which is Europe-wide, reflects the falling beet price and has nothing to do with the weedkiller coming off-patent, says the firm’s Neil Beadle.

Its patent still has four years to run.

“We have simply taken the view that with the sugar beet price coming down growers will only use it if it offers value for money.”

The cut could help re-position the product in herbicide programmes, believes Pat Turnbull of Agronomy Plus based in East Anglia.

“If weeds are allowed to grow away then mixes which include Debut can be very effective, especially on large weeds,” she says.

“Growers have learnt where to use Debut over the years.

We know how to use it, at what rates and in which situations.”

It offers excellent control of cleavers, redshank, and brassicas including volunteer oilseed rape, and is particularly useful on organic soils, explains Dr Turnbull.

“It is very effective when weeds are larger and the conditions are warmer.

“For cleavers control two applications at 30g/ha starting when the weed is at first whorl is essential.

Rates should be kept high to ensure good control.”

Mr Beadle estimates that until now, on average two-thirds of the national crop has received at least one Debut spray.

andrew.blake@rbi.co.uk