27 March 1998

Growers hit as fungicide flow slows to trickle

By Andrew Blake

A FUNGICIDE famine looks set to cause widespread disappointment this season.

Cereal growers and pesticide salesmen stand to lose out as manufacturers of the latest products find themselves unable to meet what they say is unprecedented demand.

In one case a group order for 8000 litres is said to have been slashed to just 200 litres.

Makers deny they stand to make more profit by switching product from the UK to markets on the Continent and elsewhere.

Dalgety Agriculture expects to get only 30-60% of its strobilurin orders, says Peter Corbett, arable marketing manager. Amistar (azoxystrobin) and kresoxim-methyl-based Landmark, Mantra and Ensign supplies are being shared out accordingly. Supplies of quinoxyfen-based Fortress and Orka are also tight, he adds.

Strong world demand and faster than expected approval accounts for makers embarrassment and the supply picture is unlikely to change much in the next three to four months, Mr Corbett believes.

He goes on to dismiss claims that the UK shortage is due to sales being diverted to more profitable markets abroad.

"I have had people ringing from France asking for products, but I am not tempted to supply them. The pricing is very similar now." But there are rumours that Amistar is destined for US golf courses, he notes.

Yorks-based Independent Agriculture had expected 20% of its cereal area to be sprayed with Amistar and Landmark, says technical adviser Pat Lane. "They are demand-led products. But we wont get anywhere near that now."

Main excuse for the shortage is that new production plants are not yet at full capacity, he says.

Cargills Andrew Roy reckons the company will receive only about a third of its potential Amistar sales. It does not sell kresoxim-methyl products. "It is no secret that availability is not as we wanted. Growers are bound to be disappointed."

Eastern barometer grower David Pettit had hoped to use the product later in the season and has compared costs closely. "I just wonder whether supplies are being held back to keep the price up."

FUNGICIDE SHORTAGE

&#8226 Shortfalls of 30-60% & more.

&#8226 Strong worldwide demand.

&#8226 Early season not helping.

&#8226 UK not disadvantaged say makers.

&#8226 More scope for triazoles.