Due to environmental regulatory pressures and a push to develop genetic resistance in key target crops, the U.S. market for chemicals used to control nematode infestations is poised to experience big changes over the next ten years. A study published by Kline & Company predicts that the market for liquid chemical and fumigant nematicide treatments, estimated at more than $280 million in the United States, will lose a significant portion of that value in the next decade.

But while these factors and others are converging to create a declining market, they are also creating an underserved one, and pesticide suppliers may find an opportunity to extend the use of their existing products into this secondary application.

In fact, the two main chemicals used to control infestations of the microscopic worms that damage plant roots, stems, and foliage are applied primarily to control other problems -- insects in the case of aldicarb and soil pathogens in the case of metam sodium. Both of these chemicals are facing increasing scrutiny while two other nematicides, methyl bromide and Nemacur, are being phased out.

At the same time, biologists are working to develop or enhance genetic resistance to nematodes in key crops like potatoes, tomatoes, and cotton. Kline's study, THE U.S. MARKET FOR NEMATICIDES 2004, indicates that by 2013, nematode resistance -- mainly introduced via traditional plant breeding methods -- will have a major impact on nematicide chemical use for more than half of the 21 crop types Kline examined.

Still, genetic resistance won't entirely eliminate the need for chemical control for these crops, according to Mancer Cyr, senior associate in Kline's Specialty Pesticides Practice.

"Genetically modified crops may not protect against all types of nematodes, and effectiveness will vary from crop to crop. Introduced control can also fade over time," Cyr says. "With many of the current nematicides already being phased out or heading in that direction, growers will need to switch to something."

Suitable alternatives to the chemicals to be shelved will often be expected to provide control of weeds and soil pathogens as well as nematodes. This could necessitate the use of combination treatments, particularly for high-value vegetable crops. And the industry must anticipate even stricter environmental requirements than the ones that caused the exit of their predecessors.

Source: Company Release