Fungicide supply issues appear to have eased since Easter leaving agronomists hopeful that better weather might allow growers to apply T0s to wheat crops with lower rust pressure than last year.

At least one key T0 option, Cherokee (propiconazole + cyproconazole + chlorothalonil), had been difficult to source, Richard Cromie, an independent agronomist for Crop Management Partners based in Hampshire, said. “You couldn’t get hold of it for two weeks before Easter, but it is coming in now. I don’t quite understand why it wasn’t out with distributors.”

Steve Cook of Hampshire Arable Systems also reported there had been a temporary shortage of the product. That was partly due to greater interest in the product at T0, while the manufacturer, Syngenta, was also targeting the T1 market, he suggested. “The quantity is OK, the question was whether it would be there at the right time.”

Supplies needed to be available this week to stop recommendations having to be changed, Bryce Rham, an independent agronomist from Shropshire, warned. “If [Syngenta] are not careful they will have missed T0, and then we will be in the invidious position of how to use this stuff at T1.”

Brown rust was not an issue in his area. “It is looking like a proper septoria year, so it will be a struggle to sell Cherokee at T1,” he said.

Frontier’s Bob Mills was not finding much rust in the east either. “You can find yellow rust in Robigus on odd plants, and the odd pustule of brown rust in very susceptible varieties, but nothing like the levels we had this time last year.”

Even so, he still thought it worthwhile to include a triazole at T0, at least on rust-prone varieties. “But if it going to be done, it needs doing this week or next.”

Mr Cook thought growers had until about mid-April to put a T0 on. “If you’re going through with a growth regulator, I’d put the Bravo in, and then drop it out at T1 if necessary. It is only too late if you’re combining your growth regulator with T1 sprays.”

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‘Early demand caught us by surprise’ 

Syngenta’s Matt Pickard said the firm had sold as much Cherokee this season as it did in the whole of last season already. “We’ve had a fantastic start. It obviously shows growers and agronomists are confident of using it.”
He admitted it had been difficult to get hold of, although weather delays may have helped the firm catch up. “We’re sorry if [supply issues] have caused any problems. It is the early and extra demand that has caught us by surprise.”
Supplies would be available for T1, he added.
Similar supply issues could arise later in the season for other key products, Mr Cook warned. “Proline (prothioconazole) for T1 sprays will be fine, but will it be for the flowering oilseed rape or T3 markets? It might be OK for one but not the other.”
Tracker (boscalid + epoxiconazole) could be tight at T1, according to Mr Rham. “BASF is pushing it towards the T2 market as well, which has caused a shortage at T1. If you haven’t got it ordered already you probably won’t get it,” he suggested.
He was trying to order products two weeks ahead as much as possible. “There are pinch points. Those people who want product on the day might be disappointed.”
Mr Cromie was also trying to predict what would be needed in advance. “We’re ordering more and more in advance. The problem for the agronomist is that it doesn’t allow you to fine-tune your recommendations.”