8 March 2002

Sensible cost secures role for strobs

NEW strobilurins fungicides look set to play a role on several barometer farms – at sensible prices.

"The new strobs look really good," says Catherine Thompson in Yorks. "We are still aiming for yield and it is going to be a straightforward calculation, depending on relative prices. But we tend not to rush into new chemicals, as they are always cheaper in their second year," she says.

"Our attitude is to let others have a go first," says William Hemus in Warks.

"They could cost 10-15% more, and we shall be guided very much by ARC."

"I am still keen to use strobs," says Chris Salisbury. "But we probably wont use them so much on our more backward crops."

"The new strob prices are bound to be frothy to start with," adds Robert Ramsay. "Theyll start off too high and come back by flag leaf."

"The real benefit of new chemicals is that they make older ones cheaper," says Sandy Walker, while the green effect of older strobs last season has encouraged Robert Craig to cut N inputs this season. "I am cutting back by 20 units/acre," says the Northern Ireland producer. &#42

Time to fight back

External pressures and threatened legislation are far more of a challenge than growing crops, according to Mr Hemus.

"With the NVZ consultations, DEFRA is really asking us whether we want an arm or a leg cut off. And with pesticide stewardship, we are effectively being blackmailed to avoid a tax.

"We are expected to produce crops cheaply at world prices, but at the same time the government is making it harder for us to do so.

"We are being squeezed at both ends. It is time we fought back."