While the agency was under pressure to lift the registration for molinate on a faster schedule, the USA Rice Federation and Syngenta, the manufacturer, negotiated an agreement that allows producers to use the herbicide until 2006.

Under the terms of the agreement, growers will have 75 percent use of molinate, which has been sold under the name Ordram, in 2007 and 50 percent use in 2008. In 2009, farmers will be able to apply any amounts remaining in the channels of trade, according to EPA.

“This timeline is unprecedented in that it gives the rice industry the opportunity to focus on new and promising materials to replace molinate,” said Walt Trevethan, a California producer who serves on the California Rice Commission and the U.S. Rice Producers’ Group.

“This is a hard decision, but we think it is the best thing to do. The costs to maintain this material will only continue to grow. The phase-out of five years is a reasonable period of time while we transition to new crop protection tools. We can make this work.”

Trevethan said the rice industry and chemical manufacturers have been working to introduce and register new products, such as Regiment, Clincher and Cerano/Command, to control watergrass including and resistant biotypes in California and barnyardgrass and other problem species in the Mid-South.

“The U.S. rice industry will continue working proactively with regulators on future registrations and re-registrations,” Trevethan said.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com