Changes to BASF’s pyraclostrobin brands have bought prices for the strobilurin fungicides down by as much as 30%, in time for flag leaf sprays.

Last year there was a price gap between pyraclostrobin and other strobilurin fungicides, the firm’s Tony Grayburn admits, a difference that has now been addressed.

“We have taken a decision to make a straight 200g pyraclostrobin product widely available this season,” he says.

“Now growers can buy Comet 200 for £20/litre.”

He believes that makes it competitive with Amistar Opti, last year’s most popular choice at T2, but reminds growers to consider the amount of the active ingredient in a product when deciding.

“It is difficult to make a direct price comparison, as pyraclostrobin is a more effective product than azoxystrobin.

And there won’t always be a need for chlorothalonil at T2.”

That view is disputed by Syngenta’s Matt Pickard, who points out that over 40% of growers used chlorothalonil at T2 last year.

“It is needed to get effective septoria control.

That has been shown in independent trials.”

He adds that Amistar Opti is more competitively priced this year, representing 10% better value than Comet 200.

“You can’t differentiate between the two products in the field on septoria control.

What growers have to look at is the comparison price per gram.”

But it is not just the price which has changed. Last year, BASF was selling Comet as a 250g/litre formulation, and Platoon as its 200g/litre product.

This year, the company was swapped them around and is selling Comet 200 and Platoon 250.

“It’s only the Comet product which will be available to all,” confirms Mr Grayburn.

“The same strength of pyraclostrobin last year was £30/litre, so it has come down significantly.”

Bob Mills of Frontier Agriculture agrees pyraclostrobin is now competitive on price.

“Growers are the winners.

They now have an excellent T2 option at a very good price.”

Strobilurins do still have something to offer at T2, he says.

“Don’t rely on any septoria control, but you will get a yield benefit and good control of other foliar diseases.”

But he is uncertain as to why BASF decided to change the brand names.

“It has the potential to cause confusion at farm level.

That is a shame.”

Other strobilurin manufacturers say they were already competitive on price, so don’t need to make big adjustments for this season.

“There isn’t a premium for strobilurins,” says Bayer CropScience’s Alison Daniels.

“The price has to be based on what they will deliver to the farmer.”

Mr Pickard agrees.

“Because of septoria resistance, most price changes were made last year.

The fact that pyraclostrobin was the most recent and the most active of the strobilurins wasn’t enough to justify a higher price.”

Strobilurins can still be cost-effective, providing they are targeted to particular situations, says Dr Daniels.

“Broad acre use just isn’t appropriate.

Growers are asking whether the rust control and physiological benefits gained from using a strobilurin such as pyraclostrobin represent good value for money.”

Bayer’s fluoxastrobin is only sold in combinations with other chemistry and has a broader disease spectrum than either pyraclostrobin or azoxystrobin, says Dr Daniels.

“It was priced very well last year and it brings in diseases such as take-all, eyespot and the barley problems.”

Trifloxystrobin (as in Twist and Swift) is also unchanged, she notes.

“They aren’t distributed widely and their use is restricted to where there is a response.”

fwarable@rbi.co.uk