8 October 1999

Slug spin-off to boost demand?

By Andrew Blake

UP to a tenth of this autumns winter wheat is thought to have received an anti-BYDV seed treatment. But merchant estimates suggest the chemicals perceived effect on slugs may be just as responsible for grower uptake.

Secur (imidacloprid) insecticide treatment was introduced last autumn to stop aphids spreading BYDV in cereals. But figures from Cargill and Dalgety suggest its anti-slug and wireworm activity appeal to growers.

"We have sold all the Secur we have had," says Dalgetys national cereal seeds manager David Neale. "We have done 8-10% of our wheat with it and about 5% of the barley. The last 1500 litres came in from Germany last week, enough for about 300t. The slug issue is keeping demand going. We believe it has some slug activity, and everyone is talking about it."

With only a token amount of a combined Baytan (fuberidazole + triadimenol)/Secur treatment available for test marketing, early drillers seem to have opted for Secur instead of Baytan, he adds.

Cargills sales of the insecticide, estimated at about 10% on wheat and slightly less on barley, have been beyond expectations, says the firms national seeds manager Nick Hartwell.

"There is much greater awareness of the product and its benefits. The interest is mainly in BYDV, but we have noted its [slug] repellent properties."

With the BYDV threat greater in the south-west, stronger sales were expected there. But Cargill figures are relatively uniform across the country, reinforcing the view that targets other than aphids are also on growers minds.

"We had expected only about 5% uptake in the north, but its more like 10%," says Mr Hartwell. "There is no real regional split," adds Mr Neale. "We have sold more in the south and central regions. But the interesting thing is that useful amounts have also gone into the north and Scotland."

Carol Ferguson for manufacturer Bayer says 5-10% of winter wheat has been dressed with Sibutol Secur and about 10% of winter barley with Raxil Secur. Although Secur has no label approval for control of wireworm, some of the uptake reflects the ban on Lindane (gamma-HCH), she believes.

"Some people have noticed a side-effect on slugs, but we are not banging that drum. With the level of rainfall we have had growers must use conventional methods."

[POINTS BOX]

Secur for slugs?

* No current approval.

* Perceived control.

* Other methods vital.

* Lindane replacement?

SECURFORSLUGS

&#8226 No current approval.

&#8226 Perceived control.

&#8226 Other methods vital.

&#8226 Lindane replacement?