Key barley fungicide Fandango could make a welcome return on 1 May, but for some growers in the south, this could be too late for winter barley T2 applications.

Last spring, Bayer CropScience withdrew Fandango (prothioconazole + fluoxastrobin) and recalled unused product after reports of problems with crystallisation/sediment in that season’s supplies.

Since then, Bayer has fully investigated the problem and is confident that it has identified and solved the problem.

While the company refuses to go into detail, it blames several factors coming together. This meant changes to production, as well as formulation and packing processes.

“Following production and after a period of storage in the UK, we are pleased to report that our initial tests and assessment of first Fandango batches for 2010 are positive and encouraging,” says campaign manager Alison Daniels.

“We have some further tests to conclude and feedback to receive during the coming months to ensure that the product meets the required product quality. And only after conclusion of these assessments, will we consider releasing product to the market.”

Based on progress, Bayer intends to make Fandango available from 1 May.

However, Dr Daniels stresses that other products containing the same active ingredients were never affected.

Until its return, she advises growers to use Proline as the foundation for barley disease control programmes.

“Providing that growers use a minimum of 50% label dose of Proline 275 (100g/ha of prothioconazole) as a base, and select an appropriate mixing partner for stewardship, they can be confident of excellent disease control.

Proline 275, launched last month, is a more concentrated formulation of prothioconazole aimed at helping reduce packaging waste, filling time and transport costs.

The 1 May return of Fandango is good news for barley growers in the north as it should be in time for T2 application. T2 applications, in the north are typically made mid-May onwards.

However, in the south, it may prove too late for some crops. Wiltshire agronomist Dan Dines of Wessex Agronomy Services says: “It is going to be tight for T2 applications. We would need confirmation we would have it from that day.”

Hampshire Arable Systems’ Steve Cook agrees. “We would want to know it will be available in ample quantities from that date, as we don’t want to be forced into changing our plans at the last minute.”

Bayer plans to update growers in the second half of April on the intended relaunch date.

Putting timing aside, a key factor is confidence and whether it has been dented by last year’s problems. “Rest assured, we can guarantee quality and would not be making it available if we were not confident that we had resolved the problem,” stresses Dr Daniels.

Mr Dines, who didn’t have any problems with Fandango last year, says he isn’t going to use huge quantities this season.

“There are good alternatives available. We will see how we get on with it and if there are no problems, we will be back to normal in 2011.”

In contrast, Mr Cook did experience problems last spring with sediment found in the original plus subsequent replacement batches. Despite this he is positive about its return.

“It is a good product and it contains the best active ingredients for barley.

“This year we will check cans and turn them upside down to see if there are any crystals. We didn’t look last time and this was annoying, as it was simple to diagnose.

“It would be nice to know what caused it since the worst thing is not knowing.”

He suggests that a lack of an explanation from Bayer makes him fear it could happen again.