Bayer CropScience today announced that the company has decided not to restart the transitional production of methyl isocyanate (MIC) at its site in Institute, W. Va. As a result, the company will move forward immediately with decommissioning of the reconfigured MIC and associated production units as well as the closure of Woodbine.

Bayer CropScience was planning to start the MIC unit and begin transitional production of the Temik brand insecticide early this year, but uncertainty over delays has led the company to the conclusion that a restart of production can no longer be expected in time for the 2011 growing season.

The decision leaves farmers searching for alternative measures to control early season insect pests and nematodes.

“This has caught everyone off guard and they are scrambling trying to figure out what other options are available,” says Manda Anderson, Texas AgriLife Extension integrated pest management agent in Gaines County. 

“My biggest worry is that farmers might pour money into products that do not have scientific evidence proving that they reduce the impact of nematodes,” Anderson says.

She says local supplies of Temik are limited for 2011.  “In visiting with our local suppliers, it is my understanding that some producers are only getting 40 percent of the Temik they had last year.  I have also visited with several producers who said they did not receive any Temik this year.”

Cotton growers may try to rely on partial resistant varieties for nematode control, which, she says, is an effective way to reduce damage from Southern root-knot nematodes.  “However, I have also heard that the partially resistant varieties are sold out.  Therefore, growers are seriously looking at over-the-top applications of Vydate C-LV.  And again, there are rumors that Vydate C-LV may be in short supply due to the high demand.”

Anderson says cotton growers will be the ones most affected by the shortage of Temik. “In Gaines County, growers tend not to use Temik on peanuts.  We only have a very small percentage of our peanut acreage infected with the peanut root-knot nematode.”

Bayer officials said the safety of the MIC plant, which was overhauled completely and technically modified during the past months, was confirmed again by a federal court-commissioned expert report on the plant’s safety, which was delivered to the court this week. However, against the background of the continuing uncertainty regarding the timing of resumption of production, the company needed to make a decision.

“This was a very difficult decision, particularly as our employees did everything possible to ensure the operational safety of our newly constructed MIC unit during the remaining production period”, said Achim Noack, member of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience. “Our

business case was based on our ability to supply the market needs beginning in 2011, and with the recent delays, that plan is no longer economically viable.”

Following a 2010 agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bayer CropScience agreed to phase out Temik and had timed production to end in 2012, to allow for an orderly market exit and meet immediate customer needs. This basic conclusion was based on a number of factors, with both strategic and economic considerations, and is fully in line with Bayer CropScience’s global strategy to focus on delivering innovative solutions to modern agriculture and replacing older compounds in its portfolio, including WHO Class I products.

“We regret that the decision taken today not to restart production of MIC will not allow farmers access to Temik,” said Bill Buckner, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience in the United States.

“However, we are committed to delivering the right solutions from our innovation portfolio in

support of modern agriculture for our customers.”