Dicamba is not getting any foothold in Chinese market 04-26-2017

The herbicide dicamba is enjoying high demand worldwide. But China of all countries, the largest pesticides producer worldwide and one of the biggest agricultural products producer, is yet to become a notable market for dicamba. The reasons for dicamba’s low demand in China’s domestic market can be found in the preference of farmers for glyphosate and the lacking of dicamba-resistant crops.


Source: Pixabay

The excessive use of glyphosate as the main herbicide worldwide has grown a concerning resistant against Monsanto’s most famous product. Farmers are in need to mix glyphosate with different herbicides or even switch to completely new ones in order to keep their yield on a high level. According to Croplife, the number of herbicide-resistant weeds has grown to over 230 nowadays, which makes the use of the same herbicides over a longer period an ineffective way of crop protection.


One of the main competitive products for glyphosate is dicamba. The herbicide is known for its strong weed killing effects and therefore has enjoyed a significantly growing demand during the last years.


However, Chinese farmers are still not interested in switching from their well-known glyphosate treatment to other products like dicamba. One of the reasons for this habit is, that in China there are only a few dicamba-resistant crops in the market currently. Furthermore, China’s farmers are very familiar with the usage of the cost-effective glyphosate, which keeps them from switching to unknown alternatives like dicamba.


That doesn’t mean that dicamba is not an important pesticide in China’s industry. Quite the opposite is the case. China is the largest supplier of dicamba globally, accounting currently for about 30% of supply, with increasing trend. Furthermore, the country has an amount of registered 77 dicamba products as in April 2017. According to market intelligence firm CCM, most of the dicamba products in China are mixed formulations.


The investments of China’s herbicide manufacturers are backing up the thesis. Jiangsu Changqing, for example, has opened a project, that is capable of producing 2,000 tonnes of dicamba every year by the end of 2014 and has announced plans to expand this production line to the double amount. Yangnong Chemical has expanded the dicamba production capacity to 6,500 tonnes per year in 2015. More and more enterprises are entering the dicamba business in China and try to get a piece of the cake. After all, the potential production capacity of dicamba in China reached 38,000 tonnes per year at the end of 2016.


However, even if these companies showing increasing investments in the dicamba production, most of China’s companies are not involved in any dicamba production, even they hold the registration. And the ones that sell dicamba often just look at a small sales volume of dicamba products.


Dicamba produced in China is just not used for the domestic market. The largest share is being exported. The reason for the low acceptance of dicamba in China can be found in the insecurity of farmers to switch the application of herbicides. Hence, even industry insiders in China are admitting that they are not very familiar with dicamba products, due to the fact that this herbicide is seen quite rarely in the Chinese market.


When talking about dicamba, the growing number of dicamba-resistant crops need to be mentioned, too. Dicamba-resistant crops are getting more attention, as only a few weeds have shown resistance to the herbicide yet, which makes that seed a promising alternative for many farmers.


Dicamba-resistant soybeans are one of these options. As the world population is demanding more meat and dairy products, a number of feed plants for livestock has to be secured. In the presence of growing glyphosate, PPO, and 2,4-D resistance by many weeds, dicamba-resistant soybeans can help to keep the production for farmers on a high level.


Monsanto, for example, is very successful in exporting dicamba-resistant seeds from China.


Due to the weak demand in China’s market, also foreign companies are not making any efforts in marketing and selling dicamba related products in China. Dicamba products produced in China, are being exported most of the time.


The future of dicamba in China may see more prosperous times. As mentioned before, many manufacturers in China have already get the registrations for producing dicamba, to be able to adjust the pesticide production and switch to dicamba when needed. The registration process for pesticides like dicamba in China lasts several years and is not easy to get. Hence, many companies have taken the efforts to obtain the registration might be a sign of future increasing marketing and promotion activities for dicamba. Chinese farmers need to be educated and trained by manufacturers when this herbicide should have any notable chance of growing in China’s domestic market.


About dicamba

The herbicide was launched in 1961 for the first time by the Velsicol Chemical Corporation. It fast was becoming acknowledged for strong weed killing effects on crops like wheat, corn, rice, and sorghum.


Dicamba functions mainly by increasing the plant growth rate it is applied on. The affected plant then outgrows the needed nutrient supplies and dies. This function is similar to the effect of 2,4-D.


The herbicide shows no clear link to cancer development in people. However, skin irritations and dizziness are typical reactions when disposed to dicamba directly. When dicamba is applied to crops, it is likely to absorbed by the leaves and roots. It can travel throughout the plant, but the amount and speed of movement depend on the plant. In water, microbes and ultraviolet light can break down dicamba.


Dicamba breaks down in soil so that half of the original amount is gone in 30-60 days. Water and microbes in soil can speed up the collapse of dicamba. Sometimes following an application, dicamba can become airborne and cause problems to plants nearby.


About CCM

CCM is the leading market intelligence provider for China’s agriculture, chemicals, food & ingredients and life science markets.


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