13 August 1999

Early orders call for seed treatment

MONSANTO wants growers to order its new take-all fungicide far earlier in the season than is normal practice for seed-treatments.

And buyers may have to order it separately from the seed it is applied to.

Last week the company said it expected Latitude, based on an active ingredient with the proposed name of silthiopham, to be available in the UK next year, official approvals permitting.

But in Ireland the product is already available and a novel approach to marketing is being adopted.

Irish cereal growers can only order the dressing through Monsanto designated agents and must order in good time, reports the Irish Farmers Journal. Half the cost must be paid up front, with no refund if the seed is unused.

Furthermore, the seed processor will only receive a treatment fee, noted Patrick OReilly the companys manager for Ireland.

Monsanto will not say whether a similar approach will be adopted here. "We want the farmer to be able to make the decision on fungicide earlier," notes Robert Beale, Monsanto UKs technology leader for Latitude. "There will be a cut off date for orders, but that is more likely to be Sept 15 not July 15."

Cost of Latitude in Ireland equates to £25/ha (£12/acre) based on a sowing rate of 154kg/ha (10 stones/acre). Efficacy is not lost at lower seed rates, so costs could be cut for earlier drillings of second wheats, the company notes. But there is little to be gained from treating first wheats, says David Leaper, UK development manager.

Irish grower Tim Bergin is not so sure. "I can see us using it across the board, even on first wheats if it allows us to drill a bit earlier."

He plans to replace second cereal crops of oats and barley with Latitude dressed second wheats. Demand for the product will be strong, he reckons. "I have already had a grower from England contact me to try to get hold of some."

PBICs John Howie suggests the dressing will alter traditional variety preferences. "Things that we would not grow as a second wheat return to the equation."

such as Madrigal or Equinox."

Take-all risk assessment

Check previous cropping to establish a risk profile. A = wheat or barley, B = rye, oats, triticale, grass, set-aside, C = broad-leaved break..

2 years ago Previous crop Risk Ave yield response t/ha

B/A A High 1.0

C A Moderate 0.48

A B Moderate 0.48

C/B B Low 0.25

A C Low 0.25

C/B C Zero Nil

NB: Yield responses based on average of 5 years work, 170 trials.