Prices of crop protection products have risen dramatically. Spending on herbicides and fungicides

Mircea Ultiano

Crop protection products are 50 percent more expensive than last year, according to dealers and producers. Despite this, there is almost nothing to buy in the market, and the situation could continue until 2023 – or even longer, according to an analysis published by agrarheute.com.

If necessary, you can do without fertilizers, but not without crop protection products, scientists noted.

Herbicides and fungicides are becoming much more expensive

In Germany, herbicide and fungicide prices – and thus the costs to farmers – will be at record levels in 2022. Moreover, there is no sign of prices falling. On the contrary: on average, herbicides in Germany cost approximately 20% more in April 2022 than in the previous year, and fungicides were approximately 10% more expensive.

At the same time, prices for herbicides and fungicides in Germany reached a new record. But in other countries and in the world market, the price hike was more pronounced – and it is likely that the situation in Germany will soon be the same. In any case, the market for crop protection products is not particularly transparent in terms of prices and competition is not particularly strong, as only a few companies dominate the market.

Many active substances come from China

In addition, a lot of raw materials and final crop protection products come from China, where production and supply chains are disrupted and disrupted by endless bottlenecks, destroying the global market and customers in Europe and the United States. In other words, we can’t expect any improvement in the tense supply situation until 2023. Analysts say we’re facing a perfect storm.

Weed control problem

In the United States, farmers have already significantly reduced their use of common herbicides. The demand for available alternatives to popular crop protection products is often high, and farming programs have been modified as persistent shortages of agricultural chemicals (fertilizers and crop protection) threaten crops.

However, the use of much less herbicides and the use of less effective fungicides increases the risks of weeds and diseases that will have a serious impact on crop yield at a time when there are serious grain supply problems worldwide. Reuters reported that analyzes of major traders, producers and farmers show that the deficit is disrupting the production strategies of US farmers and dramatically increasing production costs.

Supply problems reduce the ability of farmers to control weeds, which have developed resistance to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, the most widely used herbicide to date.

A number of dealers, citing a number of dealers, said prices for glyphosate and glucosinate, another major herbicide sold under the Liberty brand, were up more than 50 percent from the previous year.

Are producers taking advantage of the situation?

Amid rising prices, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said farmers are concerned that producers are raising prices for chemicals, seeds and fertilizers to round out their profits, and not just as supply and demand change. Therefore, the USDA has launched an investigation into the potential anti-competitive behavior of some companies in this sector.

On the other hand, manufacturers claim that the current problems are caused by a pandemic (especially in China), delays in the transportation sector, labor shortages and extreme weather conditions. Fertilizers and seeds are also scarce all over the world. Further difficulties arise because Germany’s BASF, which also sells glufosinate in the United States, has announced that the situation will not improve significantly in the next year either.

“It’s going to take longer than our customers, farmers and dealers thought,” Scott Kay, BASF Vice President of the United States, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Traders said glyphosate prices recently reached $50-60 per gallon, rising from less than $20 per gallon by mid-2021.

Fertilizer can sometimes be abandoned, but crop protection cannot

These higher costs are prompting some farmers to reduce the use of fertilizers and crop protection products, depending on the situation, says Mark Welch, an agricultural economist at Texas A&M University. The economist also states that grain prices are still high enough that it makes sense to continue using fertilizers and crop protection products on highly productive lands to get a good yield. However, in less productive regions, the higher costs are difficult to justify.

Mark Lux, a researcher at Ohio State University, says farmers need to control weeds that could have a significant impact on their crops. The scientist believes that farmers have more freedom when it comes to reducing the use of fertilizers. “You may or may not lose a particular crop, depending on what the soil offers. But once it gets below a certain level of weed control, the losses will be very evident,” he says.

The lack of widespread glyphosate- and glyphosin-based herbicides is forcing US farmers to look for other methods, says Rodrigo Werle, an agricultural consultant at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Some attempt to destroy weeds by mechanical means, which may reduce the amount of herbicide they need to apply, or use other chemicals.

The agricultural advisor also said farmers need to identify exactly which weeds are growing in their fields so they can choose the right herbicide formulation, just as they would have done before genetically modified plants (in the US) made it easier to control the weeds.

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