Huge price rise for key beet residual herbicide

Price rises of up to 50% are expected on-farm this season for widely used beet residual herbicide metamitron.

Problems in sourcing the product that is used to make the active ingredient mean that Makhteshim-Agan, supplier of main brand Goltix, reckons its supplies might be cut by 35-40% compared with previous seasons.

“The price rises stem from that shortage of technical material to make metamitron,” said Lisa Hulshof, marketing manager for Makhteshim.

United Phosphorus, the other main supplier of metamitron, also reports supplies are tight. “We are working to supply our regular customers, but supplies are very tight,” said Richard Allen, the firm’s UK sales manager.

“It is because of a world shortage of active ingredient. We expect price rises in that order [of 40-50%], because the cost of the pre-cursor have gone through the roof, and there are increased logistical costs in getting available material.”

Growers should attempt to obtain supplies as soon as possible, advised Pat Turnbull, an AICC agronomist based in Norfolk. “It is still worth using even at the higher price because it is such a valuable part of the programme.”

But the shortage could push growers into using more active contact products, such as the new Bayer CropScience herbicide Betanal MaxxPro, she said. “Bayer trials suggest you might be able to get the same results with Betanal MaxxPro mixed with a lower amount of metamitron.”

Timing, particularly of the first post-emergence spray, is also important, Jackie Passey, technical manager for Makhteshim-Agan, said. “Get the timing right as the first flush comes through is going to be critical.”

That is particularly the case if conditions are warm and soft at that timing, which will steer growers away from using the more blockbuster type contact materials, she said.

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