2 May 2001
Plenty chemical bargains for growers

By Andrew Blake

MASSIVE pressure on pesticide suppliers to sell in a spraying season hit by bad weather means there are bargains aplenty for growers prepared to negotiate.

Most popular herbicides and fungicides are cheaper than they were last year, when overall prices were already down about 10% on 1999.

A reduced winter cereal area, missed autumn treatments and spring delays have left some non-service sector distributors gasping for turn-over, says one observer.

Independent agronomists say opening prices this season were much as they finished last year, but with suppliers eager to clear stocks many are flexible.

Most things have been tweaked back by about 5%, though manufacturers are saying enough is enough, says Will Gemmill of Strutt & Parker, which runs a buying group.

But it is still early days and there is scope for prices to slip a bit further.

Imports, favoured by the strong pound, are also working in growers favour.

The price of metamitron sugar beet herbicide has crashed, largely because of imports, notes one Lincs consultant.

Biggest reductions are said to be on directly competing products like wild oat herbicides and some older triazole fungicides.

Most suppliers are fairly amenable to negotiation, agrees Chris Page of buying group ADAS Direct.

But the prices we have now are about as far as they can go without operating at a loss.

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