Ag suppliers struggle to track down glyphosate, trifluralin in lead up to seeding

SHORTAGE: Farmer Paul Bammann said while not worried about a shortage come seeding time, he does like to ensure he has supply ready to go.
SHORTAGE: Farmer Paul Bammann said while not worried about a shortage come seeding time, he does like to ensure he has supply ready to go.

A potential for chemical shortages in the lead up to seeding this year has been attributed to several national and international factors.

Factory closures in China and reduced shipping volumes in Chinese ports in response to the Wuhan coronavirus has sparked fears among chemical suppliers of a shortage come this year's cropping season given supplies are also being sent to east coast growers.

Rodney Quinn of Quinn Transport in Cleve said re-sellers were preparing in case of a shortage.

"From a transport side, re-sellers are pushing to make sure all their allocated product is being transported into store," he said.

"The agents are looking to make sure they've got it, physically.

"We've been busily collecting product everywhere and it's hard for everyone given we just don't know the quantities available.

"It all ties in with the dramas overseas, most of (the chemical) is made in China and a lot of the base product comes out of China for Australian manufacturers."

Mr Quinn said he had heard from re-sellers that products such as glyphosate and trifluralin were running low or sold out.

"I just wouldn't like to see everyone not aware of this possible situation," he said.

"And the cost - all of a sudden it might be significantly dearer this year because of the shortages, which is especially hard with the financial struggles of people in the district."

Farm supplies manager at Elders Cleve Leigh Petherick said there was a combination of issues leading to a shortage in some chemical supplies.

"A lot of the chemical has gone to the Eastern States because of the amount of rain they've had," he said.

"It's a combination of the coronavirus and the Eastern States.

"Another supplier, not a chemical but a liquid nutrient supplier said they can't access the product in China at the moment...and it's not just us, it's any industry that imports from China.

"The effect could be more long term than we think."

He said while Elders Cleve initially had trouble securing trifluralin, it was now glyphosate stock they were scrambling for, but said every supplier has reported different problems.

"I have spoken to some of my guys to make them aware there might be a shortage...we're liaising with our clients about what their requirements are," he said.

"We've already done pre-orders, we work on it being an average year...we do it year in and year out.

"Hopefully we get a good strong break that sets us up for the rest of the season."

Cleve Ag Services agronomist Marty Lovegrove said he was recommending growers ensure they have their chemical requirements on farm as soon as was practical.

"With the rain on the east coast and the turmoil in China it's pretty important growers have their pre-emergent herbicides on farm as early as practical," he said.

"I don't see too many dramas in the short term but who knows in the long term say for next year or later in the season...it's just about keeping informed."

Cleve farmer Paul Bammann said he made sure he had plenty of chemical on hand however didn't think a chemical shortage would be a problem by seeding time.

"It's just trying to get immediate access for summer spraying," he said.

He said he'll be seeding in early April and usually stocks up on chemicals such as glyphosate and trifluralin in March.

"If it does rain then (seed will) go out with a knock down and pre-emergent if required."

This story Chemical shortage concerns due to turmoil in China, rain in east first appeared on Eyre Peninsula Tribune.