By Mike Abram

Top triazole fungicides Opus and Folicur will cost 6% more than last year this spring, say trade sources. By contrast strobilurin and chlorothalonil prices will remain the same or lower.

“The lead triazoles Opus and Folicur have gone up 5-7%, which is much in line with what we expected,” explains Dalgety national agrochemical products manager Peter Corbett.

 Increased global demand for triazoles on the back of the US Asian bean rust outbreak is to blame, he suggests, together with background inflation on product ingredients and packaging.

“There is certainly strong demand for triazoles globally,” agrees Banks Cargill”s crop protection director Steve Wolf. “If our forecast requirements are underestimated we will find it very difficult to replace with new material.”

 But Strutt & Parker”s Charles Ireland is not so sure Asian bean rust is to blame for the Opus price rise. “I think BASF is trying to second guess where the Proline price is.”

Rate for rate Opus works out around 1/ha cheaper than Proline, he says. “Proline is competitively priced, but I think there will still be a lot of Opus used. It is tried and tested, and its eradicant activity is good, which is possibly Proline”s weakness.”

 dose response

BASF”s Tony Grayburn confirms a 6% Opus price rise at distributor level, but blames it entirely on inflationary pressures. “It”s still excellent value for money. HGCA dose response work shows half rate Opus still gives greater activity than a full rate of all the other triazoles tested.”

Other triazoles, such as cyproconazole, fluquinconazole and metconazole have gone up by 0-4.5%, notes Mr Corbett of Dalgety. “They are not so heavily in demand globally.”

 That could make them more attractive commercially, he admits. “There is a definite pecking order. But dependent on variety, if you”re not looking at septoria, it could be a cost-effective approach to use them.”

Co-formulated strobilurin and triazole products, such as Landmark and Mantra could also be better value this season, suggests Mr Wolf. “They”ve only increased slightly – maybe 2% [from the end of last season].”

 Opera price has dropped significantly from the beginning of last season, adds Mr Ireland. “All strobilurins have fallen in price by 5-8%.”

Amistar Opti has made the biggest move. “It is down 11%. You can now buy Opti cheaper than buying Amistar and generic chlorothalonil separately.”

Commercially that makes it much more attractive. “I think Syngenta realised it was over-priced last year. I can count on the fingers of one hand where I used it last year. We will look to use it this year.”

Overall fungicide programme costs should remain similar to last year, despite the triazole price increase, says Mr Corbett. “If triazole doses go up, as they should, then growers might spend a little more, but that might result in a strobilurin being dropped at one timing.”

mike.abram@rbi.co.uk