Status Quo and Prospects on Global Paddy Herbicides Market


Status Quo and Prospects on Global Paddy Herbicides MarketRice contributes to 60% of the world’s grain supply and rice growing/consumption regions tend have the largest populations and largest economies in the world. Given the likelihood of increased global demand for rice, we can expect a concomitant increase in the paddy herbicide market, which already accounts for 40% of the plant protection products used. The paddy herbicide market is characterized by diverse combinations of active ingredients and is influenced by multiple factors such as climate, agricultural practices, and agricultural development level, national food security policies and international trade. To help readers better comprehend this niche and variable market, this analysis summarizes the scale and characteristics of rice plantation, herbicide use and market conditions in the major rice growing regions globally.

The global rice growing area was 160.1 million hectares in 2016, up 0.8% year-on-year. The overall plantation area has been stable in recent years. Rice is universally planted in temperate and tropical regions and the top rice-growing country is India, followed by China, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Thailand. India was second behind China in rice output due to its moderate productivity of 2.6 ton per hectare. China is the largest and the most efficient rice producer with an annual output of 144.9 million tons and boasts a per unit output of 4.8 ton per hectare.

Plantation Area, Output adn Annual Changes in Major Rice Growing Countries in 2016

Rice price, inventory, weather condition and currency exchange rate are the major factors affecting rice plantation and paddy herbicide market. In 2016, the United States, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines have increased rice area while the plantation decreased in India, Japan, Pakistan and Brazil. Although rice price was low, the weather condition was conducive to high overall production volume in Asia. Self-sufficiency policies in Indonesia and Malaysia also helped rice plantation. In the last 2 decades, the steady decline in rice planation in Japan and South Korea has become one of the major causes of volatility in rice-use herbicide market. In 1996, Japan agreed to open up its rice market to join the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, now known as the WTO). To import more rice from the international market, Japan adopted multiple measures to reduce domestic rice plantation and almost 20% of the rice plantation area has been reduced from 1994 to 1998. In 1999, Japan revoked the restriction on rice plantation, but the area continued to decrease due to high inventory level and weak rice price. The total land area devoted to rice plantation showed only a slight increase between 2012 and 2014, but started declining again in 2014. This was also the case in South Korea. The country used to offer subsidies to its domestic rice growers. After adopting GATT, the government altered the allowance and rice plantation area had decreased by more than 1 million hectares by 2005 and continues to decrease.

Rice plantation was also volatile in the United States. As a strong rice producer and exporter, rice area in the United States is more driven by global free trade and rice price. The country reduced its rice plantation area by 11.5% in 2015 but then increased the area by 19.8% in 2016.

Timing of Rice Sowing and Harvest in East Asian Region

Thailand, India and Vietnam are 3 large exporters and rice plantation in these regions and overall production volume has correlated well with rising rice price. In the early 2000s, rice consumption exceeded rice production and the low inventory resulted in rising price, which was further boosted by trade protection polices in some rice exporting countries. Rice price has risen for three consecutive years from 2010 to 2013 and then declined until Thailand implemented destocking policy in 2013 and 2014. Price remained low despite a slight recovery after 2014.


Global sales of rice-use herbicides was 1.988 billion USD in 2016, 3.1% higher year-on-year and accounted for 9.5% of the sales of crop-use herbicides and 4.0% of the sales of all crop protection products. China and Japan account for almost half of paddy herbicide market in the world, followed by the United States, India, Vietnam, Brazil, Thailand, Italy, Korean, and Indonesia. Japan and the United States do not rank in the top 8 rice growing countries, but featured in the 1st and 3rd places in paddy herbicide market.

Global sales of Paddy Herbicides in 2016

Paddy weed control consists of pre-planting, pre-emergence and post-emergence treatment against Gramineous and broadleaf weeds. The spectra and time window for the main paddy herbicides are summarized as follows:

Time window

Gramineous weeds

broadleaf weeds


Molinate, etc.



Butachlor, etc.



Anilofos, Cyhalofop-butyl, Fentrazamide and Bromobutide, etc.

Metsulfuron, Bentazone, Azimsulfuron, and 2,4-D, etc.

Pre-emergence and  post-emergence

Mefenacet, Pyriminobac, Quinclorac, Pyrimisulfan, Cafenstrole and Oxaziclomefone, etc.

Imazosulfuron and Halosulfuron, etc.

Broad-spectrum paddy herbicides effective against both Greamineous and broadleaf weeds

Pre-planting and  Pre-emergence



Oxadiazon, Pyrazolynate, Thiobencarb and Pentoxazone, etc.


Propyrisulfuron, Pretilachlor, Bispyribac, Propanil, Cyclosulfamuron, etc.

Pre-emergence and post-emergence

Bensulfuron, Penoxsulam, Pyraclonil, Pyrazosulfuron, Benzobicyclon and Imazapic, etc.

Pre-planting, pre-emergence and post-emergence

Imazethapyr, Pendimethalin and Oxyfluorfen, etc.

Cyhalofop-butyl was the top sold product in 2016 owing to its excellent sales performance in Japan, followed by butachlor, penoxsulam, pretilachlor, glyphosate, pyraclonil, quinclorac, bispyribac, propanil and bensulfuron.

It is remarkable that Japan represents only 1% of rice plantation area globally, but it accounts for almost 30% of global paddy herbicide market, which is mainly driven by novel high value products and one-off treatment and “JUMBO” formulations (a novel type of encapsulated-granular formulations that is less labor intensive). Product development and market replacement in Japan reflects global trends and we will prior explore Japan’s paddy herbicide market in the next section.



Japan only grows single crop rice. Crop varieties and planation practice are very distinctive from other Asian regions. Each region has its representative varieties and most of them are transplanted. 1 or 2 treatments are adopted during each season and major malignant weeds are annual weeds including Echinochloa crus-galli var. orizicola, Cyperus difformis, Monochoria vaginalis var. plantaginea, Rotala indica var. uliginosa, Lindernia procumbens, Dopatrium junceum, Elatine triandra var. pedicellata, Ammannia multiflora, as well as perennial weeds such as Eleocharis acicularis var. longiseta, Scirpus juncoides, Sagittaria pygmaea, Alisma canaliculatum, Cyperus serotinus, Sagittaria triforia, Eleocharis kuroguwai, Potamogeton distinctus, Oenanthe javanica and Scirpus nipponicus, etc.

Most of the herbicides are multiple compounded formulations of “JUMBO”. Fentrazamide, Cyhalofop, Oxaziclomefone, Pyrimisulfan and Cafenstrole have market advantages against Gramineous weeds while Pyraclonil, Pretilachlor, Bensulfuron, Imazosulfuron and Pentoxazone are mostly compounded targeting broadleaf weeds.

Japan’s sales of paddy herbicide was 585 million USD in 2016, up by 9.1% year on year. Due to a stronger Yen, the market translated into a 2.1% loss of 63.5 billion Yen and remained far below the highest record of 70 billion Yen in 1993. Since that time, sales declined with the decrease of rice area. Rice plantation has been comparatively stable in recent years and dropped by only 1% in 2016, which reflected a 2.1% devaluation in the value of the yen. As Japan’s rice plantation has little room to decline further, its paddy herbicide market has slowly recovered. Japan’s aging growers also tend to seek labor-saving products. 200 paddy herbicides already exist in this competitive market and as such we are not likely to see increased profit margins.


devalued by almost 7% annually against the dollar for 3 consecutive years since 2014, combined with a 0.2% reduction on rice plantation area, as well as decreased use of plant protection treatment, it is tough for China to maintain a sustained market.

China’s vast territory, complicated climate, multiple farming methods and crop varieties bring up richest weed species and most diverse weed resistance. Over 200 paddy weeds have been identified and over 20 of them are disastrous weeds frequently occurring in the paddy field. Barnyard grass affects 14 million hectare and 43% of rice area annually and is the most damaging paddy weed.

Major paddy weeds species in China



Gramineae weed

barnyard grass, Leptochloa chinensis, Digitaria sanguinalis, Paspalum distichum and Leersia hexandra, etc;

Broadleaf weed

Monochoria vaginalis, Ludwigia prostrate, Sagittaria trifolia and Murdannia triquetra, etc;

Cyperaceae weed

Cyperus iria, Cyperus difformis, Eleocharis yokoscensis and Fimbristylis, etc;

By the end of 31 Aug. 2018, China had registered 2171 herbicides for paddy weeds, consisting of 262 single and multiple combinations mostly known as “me-too”. Lack of product differentiation has resulted in herbicide resistance and the situation is worsened by higher dosages used in China. For example, Cyhalofop-butyl can obtain a good result under a very regular rate of 75 to 105 gram of active ingredient per hectare when it was initially launched in China in 2006. Nowadays, the effective dosage is 500 to 600 g active ingredient per hectare.

China’s Yangtze region grows the most direct seeding rice and the area of direct seeding rice in Central China is 5.33 million hectare, accounting for 30% of total rice area of the region. Herbicides targeting direct seeding rice have achieved better market performance in Yangtze region, especially the MNCs. Dow’s Penoxsulam holds 20% to 30% of the market while FMC’s patent herbicide Metamifop holds 10% of the market with efficacy on weeds that have resistance to common paddy herbicides such as Penoxulam, Cyhalofop-butyl, Quinclorac and Bispyribac, etc. Some domestic companies have also gained considerable profits through generic formulations of Cyhalofop-butyl, Penoxulam and other active ingredients.

Market status in Northeastern China rice region is distinctive to other regions, owing to cold weather and prolonged growing/weed affecting period. As insect and disease are less severe, herbicide accounted for 70% of agrochemical products used on rice. Soil and early treatments are usually adopted for 2 to 3 times, succeeding with foliar treatment using Penoxulam. 80% of the herbicides are generic products and use domestic products is far more than imported products. Growers spend approximately 500 to 600 Yuan per hectare for weed treatment.

As labor cost rise, herbicides with lower dosage, labor-saving and suitable for direct field spraying or UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) application will likely become popular. The uncertainty over the market is deepened by the weakening willingness of rice growers to use herbicide products. Rising cost of land rental combined with decreased rice price (China maintain a minimum guarantee purchasing price for grain crops, which seemed to be disconnected from inflation) are undermining China’s rice plantation. It is forecasted that in Central China double cropping rice would be largely replaced by single cropping rice.


In 2016, Thailand increased rice area by 8.5% and sales of paddy herbicide grew by 12.1% to 65 million USD, owing to favorable rainfall. The top sold products included Bispyribac-sodium, Cyhalofop, Pretilachlor, Butachlor, Glufosinate, Pyrazosulfuron, Propanil, Thiobencarb, Pyribenzoxim and Clomazone.


Vietnam rice plantation slightly increased by 0.4% and sales of paddy herbicide maintained at above 97 million USD and the best sold herbicides were: Cyhalofop, Penoxulam, Butachlor, 2,4-D, Pretilachlor, Pyribenzoxim, Fenoxaprop, Propanil, Quinclorac and Oxadiazon, etc.


India reduced rice area by 1.3% but sales of paddy herbicide increased by 7.7% to some 106 million USD, mainly thanks to expanded treated area and uses of advanced products. Major paddy herbicides used in India included: Pretilachlor, Quizalofop, Oxyfluorfen, Pendimthalin, Bispyribac-sodium, Glyphosate, Paraquat, Butachlor, Aniolfos and 2,4-D, etc.

South Korea

Similar to Japan, advanced and one-off products prevail in Korea’s paddy herbicide market. The rice area and herbicide sales decreased by 2.5% to 4.0% respectively. The top sold active ingredients were: Benzobicyclon, Penoxsulam, Butachlor, Imazosulfuron, Fentrazamide, Metazosulfuron, Pretilachlor, Flucetosulfuron, Oxadiazon and Oxadiargyl, etc.

United States

The United States is the third most important paddy herbicide market globally but accounts for only 0.8% of rice planation area globally. Sales of paddy herbicides sharply increased by 31.4% to 139 million USD, representing an acreage increase of 19.8% to 1.25 million hectares. That was mainly driven by lower price of other cereal crops and increased rice export fueled by rising global demand. A considerable market percentage was occupied by some older products such as Propanil and Clomazone, etc. Other most salable products were: Imazethapyr (used for Clearfield herbicide-tolerant rice), Quinclorac, Halosulfuron, Cyhalofop, Thiobencarb, Bispyribac, Triclopyr and Saflufenacil, etc.

US is likely to be the first country to commercialize herbicide-tolerant GM rice, which could have far-reaching effects on product structure and percentage in the US and the global paddy herbicide market. BASF has already launched an imidazolinone-tolerant rice(non-GM) and a glyphosate-tolerant GM rice is also in development, which should have more potential on upland direct seeding rice.

Latin America

Brazil and Colombia are the major growers in Latin America. Brazil's rice area dropped by 1.3% while sales of paddy herbicides decreased by 14.3% to 90 million USD, the lowest since 2009. The best sold in 2016 were: Bispyribac-sodium, Imazapic, Metsulfuron, Propanil, Cyhalofop, Penoxsulam, Imazethapyr, Iodosulfuron, Clomazone and Profoxydim, etc .Colombia increased rice area by 15.6% but paddy herbicide sales dropped 3.4%   to 28 million USD. The top sold products were: Propanil, Oxadiazon, Bispyribac, Penoxsulam, Pendimethalin, Cyhalofop, 2,4-D, Glyphosate, Butachlor and Paraquat, etc.


Rice plantation was very limited in Europe, majorly in Italy, Spain, Portugal and other eastern European countries. Rice is a high value commodity in Europe but the paddy herbicide market is dominated by cheaper products such as Molinate, Propanil, Oxadiazon and so on. Some high value products have gained larger market share, including Penoxsulam, Imazamox, Cyhalofop, Bispyribac, Halosulfuron, Azimsulfuron, Imazosulfuron, Bensulfuron and Profoxydim, etc.


2,4-D, Butachlor, Propanil and other broad-spectrum herbicides used to dominate paddy herbicides for a long time until DuPont launched Bensulfuron-methyl in 1984. This sulfonylurea chemical has excellent effect against Gramineae and broadleaf weeds and gain rapid popularity in Japan. To broaden its targeted weed species, it was usually compounded with other active ingredients. Its popularity lead to the development of other sulfonylureas and other chemical groups such as sulfonamides, amides, APPs, Pyrimidines, ALS inhibitors and HPPD inhibitors, etc. As seen from below table, Japanese agrochemical companies are active at developing new active ingredients.

Table- Novel Paddy Herbicides Developed /in Development

Novel Paddy Herbicides developed in Last Decade


Active Ingredient

Brand name



Targeting stage




Sumitomo Chemical

Cross prevention





Kumiai Chemical

Gramineae weeds





Kyoyu Agri

Gramineae and broadleaf weeds





Nissan Chemical

Gramineae and broadleaf weeds





Hokko Chemical

Gramineae and broadleaf weeds





Kumiai Chemical

Gramineae and broadleaf weeds






Gramineae and broadleaf weeds






Gramineae and broadleaf weeds


Novel Paddy Herbicides Currently under Development

Active Ingredient
(developing code)



Targeted Crop


Kumiai Chemical

Broadleaf weeds



Ishihara Sangyo(ISK)

Gramineae and broadleaf weeds



Mitsui Chemicals





Gramineae and broadleaf weeds

Cereals and rape flower



Broadleaf weeds



Despite the high subsidies offered by many national governments, we can expect significant growth in global rice demand, which should precipitate concomitant growth in demand for paddy herbicide. According to Phillips McDougall (an agrochemical market consulting firm), the global paddy herbicide market is expected to maintain a 5-year’s CAGR of 3.2% and sales would reach to 2.33 billion USD by 2021.

Rice price has just started to recover from the rice destocking policy of 2014 and is still far below historically high levels. Sales of paddy herbicides in rice exporting regions such as India, Thailand, Vietnam and United States would be boosted by rising import demand. Latin America could also resume rice plantation in the context of Sino - US trade friction.

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