High grain prices help ease new fungicide premium pain

High grain prices will make it easier for growers to swallow the £6-8/ha premium that is likely for new fungicide chemistry on sale this season.

But not all agronomists are ready to switch from current standards wholesale this spring.

While the price for Bayer CropScience’s new Aviator 235 Xpro and Syngenta’s as yet unapproved isopyrazam + epoxiconazole fungicide have still to be formally released, both firms have given an indication of a premium of £6-10/ha over current standards.

That could make the three-quarter minimum dose, which both firms suggest is necessary to achieve the yield responses seen in trials, cost at least £36/ha, based on last year’s pricing for Comet + Opus.

“It sounds about right for new chemistry,” says Simon Beddows, farm manager at the 1000ha Phillimore Farms, near Reading in Berkshire.

He will trial the new fungicides against his current programmes this season to confirm claims made by manufacturers. “It seems if it is a high disease year you can expect to get a good payback, while in a dry year or on lower yielding crops then it might not be quite so much.

“So we won’t be using it on all our wheat to start with, but using it selectively to see whether it performs first on our higher yielding, disease-susceptible fields.”

Bryce Rham, an independent agronomist from Shropshire, is keen to recommend it more widely. Growers who have sold wheat forward at £150/t and achieve the 0.4t/ha average yield response on better land will be £50/ha better off, even after paying the premium, he says.

“Bayer couldn’t have launched an expensive product at a better time because of the wheat prices. It makes it quite an easy decision, particularly when you look at the other benefits of it being almost rainfast the moment you put it on, the better kick-back and protection, and the fact you can start spraying almost as soon as the flag leaf appears.”

Only on lower yielding lighter land does he think there might be a question about using it. “Then it will come down to the actual price and the premium over what we do currently. If that is over £15/ha then you have to start thinking whether it is worth it.”

Chris Bean, UAP technical director, is more circumspect. In his firm’s trials, the new chemistry has performed similarly to the firm’s Prosaro/Kestrel + Jenton mixes, although it beats Opus + Comet by the 0.5t/ha the manufacturers have seen.

“We will recommend it, but are going to be careful where we do so. If growers are using a triazole + chlorothalonil flag leaf mix, our results would say definitely switch, and there is an argument to move where Comet + Opus is being used. But it is harder to justify where they are using our more advanced triazole / strobilurin mixes.”

Active ingredients

Aviator Xpro – bixafen + prothioconazole

Comet – pyraclostrobin

Opus – epoxiconazole

Jenton – pyraclostrobin + fenpropimorph

Prosaro / Kestrel – prothioconazole + tebuconazole

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