Weeds explosion keeps the pressure on herbicide supplies

Neil Lyon, March 20, 2020

HERBICIDE supplies remain tight as growers work through spraying programs to get on top of a surge in weeds triggered by widespread rains throughout eastern Australia in recent weeks.

The rush on herbicide stocks, coupled with supply issues coming out of China in the wake of the corona virus outbreak, has seen some shortfalls in herbicide availability.

Suppliers such as Nutrien Ag Solutions say they are working to ensure growers have glyphosate and other herbicides as and when they need them.

“We currently have some short term delays as a result of unprecedented demand nationwide following the rains, and delayed supply of active ingredient out of China due to COVID-19,” Nutrien said in a statement.

“Looking forward, we are well prepared for the traditional pre and post emergent market.

“Given planting may now be earlier and larger than usual, we are working with suppliers to increase orders and have increased production of our proprietary products.”

Agforce Grains president and Darling Downs farmer, Brendan Taylor, said there were still shortages of herbicide, but the supply, particularly of glyphosate, would hopefully improve going through April.

“That was the advice I had a few days ago, but it’s changing by the hour with the COVID-19 developments,” he said.

“Demand will drop off now as most people have got on top of their weed situation from the wet start.

“There is still spraying going on, but the flush of weeds from the good falls of rain has largely been dealt with.”

Massive weed burden

Pulse Australia northern region agronomist and AHRI northern extension agronomist, Paul McIntosh, said the recent rain, which was largely unforecast, had created a massive weed burden across eastern Australia and put pressure on herbicide supplies.

“We are using high rates of chemical and that has created a shortage,” he said.

Mr McIntosh said there would be further demand peaks as the winter cropping program progressed that would continue to stretch supplies.

“It is getting tighter and probably will get tighter again. There will be the desiccation of the summer crops to come in about May-June which will be another big use of glyphosate,” he said.

“Then there is the weed spraying that has to happen to stop the ‘transplants’ before sowing. Then there is the issue of winter cropping ground farmers need to keep free of weeds before they plant the winter crop. It will be tight all over.”

Feathertop Rhodes scurge

Mr McIntosh said controlling feathertop Rhodes grass had been a particularly difficult issue for growers this season.

“Each plant can produce 100,000 seeds with 40 per cent viability. It is around houseyards, fencelines, paddocks, mailboxes, guideposts, culverts – it is scattered everywhere,” he said.

He urged growers to apply the WeedSmart Big 6 strategies, which included increasing plant populations of winter crop and decreasing row spacings to put added competition pressure on weeds “without having to use precious herbicides that may or may not be available”.



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