Cyanamide: An excellent chemical plant growth regulator: Is there an alternative to dormancy breaking products?
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Cyanamide is a down-stream product of the coal-based chemical industry with a long history of application, being used for chemical, pharmaceutical and agricultural purposes. In recent years, as a unique dormancy breaking agent, its use in plant growth regulation has attracted increasing attention. In the chemical industry sector, China has a cyanamide production capacity of more than 80,000 tons, accounting for some 90% of the global total. In 2020, the value of the global cyanamide market reached RMB1.2 billion, and is expected to reach RMB1.7 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3%. When used as in plant growth regulation applications, the global volume of formulations total roughly 7,000 to 8,000 tons, with a market value of some RMB160 million, being mainly used as a dormancy breaking agent and defoliant in grape, kiwifruit, blueberry and apple crops, which are all high value crops. This paper will summarize the production process and market development trend of cyanamide. 


Chemical substance of cyanamide


The commercial production of cyanamide, which began abroad in the late 1930s, was obtained via the action of lime nitrogen on sulfuric acid. In the 1960s, cyanamide production was changed to calcium cyanamide, carbon dioxide and water. Since the 1960s, new processes for the production of cyanamide were constantly developed but were not industrialized. The Chinese domestic production of cyanamide began in the 1960s, when it was mainly used as a pharmaceutical intermediate, through the use of production technologies of developed countries from the 1930s and 1940s. The production process remained basically unchanged until the early 1990s. Since 1995, a number of production units have been installed in China based on the production process of cyanamide in the 1960s and 1970s in developed countries, which are still being used today. Currently, China's main cyanamide production facilities are centralized in Ningxia, northwest China. The price of calcium carbide, which is the upstream product of cyanamide, fluctuated sharply last year, but as calcium carbide is a basic chemical raw material and China has a storage volume of more than 30 million tons, while the volume of cyanamide is rather small, the price fluctuation of calcium carbide has had little impact on cyanamide.


Cyanamide is available in the following specifications: cyanamide 20% AS used as a defoliant; 30% AS used in the electronic industry; 50% AS used for dormancy breaking and in the electronic industry; and 95% high-purity crystals used in the pharmaceutical industry.


In addition, cyanamide can be used as a pesticide intermediate for the production of carbendazim, benomyl, mepanipyrim, pirimor, midinyanglin, chlorsulfuron, metsulfuron-methyl, triasulfuron, bensulfuron methyl, pyrazosulfuron-ethyl and hexazinone.


Prime suppliers of cyanamide 50% SL (ICAMA)

Zhejiang Longyou East Anasac Crop Science Co., Ltd.

Zhejiang Tide CropScience,Co, Ltd. 


Cyanamide at higher temperatures is prone to polymerization, turns into dicyanamide and becomes flocculent. Therefore, there are certain product transportation requirements. In general, transportation should take place in winter or in a refrigerated state. Longyou East Anasac Crop Science said that its ex-works product must be maintained at a high standard. For example, its cyanamide content must be about 51%, with a Ph of 5 or less, have a dicyanamide content within 1.2%, be filtered after 15 days of standstill, and be in a refrigerated container for transportation  to keep the temperature at around 5 degrees, preferably within 5 to 10 degrees.

As one of the first Chinese company who brought its branded cyanamide 50% SL to the international market , TIDE has been dedicated in development and marketing of this product for nearly 20 years. In addition to the consistent improvement  of its terminal application technology and application scope, a complete set of standard operating procedures has been established, in terms of management of raw materials qualification, process monitoring , QC and logistical transportation, to achieve  the quality which is far about the industry standard. The quality and stability of its products have been well recognized by local farmers.

Cyanamide's use for plant growth regulation: A highly effective dormancy breaking agent 


Cyanamide can be used to break the dormancy period of grape and fruit trees that defoliate, therefore, promoting early germination. In plants, cyanamide is rapidly metabolized and transformed into a source of carbon needed for plant growth. During the mature phase, residues are very low. It has no adverse effect on fruit quality and is an excellent plant growth regulator, allowing for the environmentally-friendly production of fruits.


Studies have shown that some sweet cherry varieties or tree species, when cultivated in a warm winter region, have a longer flowering phase than if planted in temperate zones or cold regions, because of the accumulated low temperature effect, which can be offset by the application of cyanamide.


In order to account for the insufficient amount of cold temperatures required, cyanamide is broadly used as an effective dormancy breaking agent in fruit crops that will defoliate, such as grape, kiwifruit, apple and peach. Studies show that spraying cyanamide on fruit trees, 2 to 5 weeks before natural germination, can promote early and consistent germination, increase the number of flowers and fruits, bring forward the flower and mature period, and improve fruit quality.


Cyanamide used as plant growth regulator in the main market


The main markets for cyanamide are Chile, Peru, the United States and Brazil. Among these markets, Chile and Peru are the largest, where the annual importation of 50% SL totals 2,000-3,000 tons, being mainly imported by Germany's ALZCHEM and China's Longyou East Anasac Crop Science, Tide Group, Flagchem and Generic Chemical. Chile's imports from Germany are 1.5 times that from China, while Peru's imports from China are 2.7 times that of Germany. Moreover, the Brazilian market, totaling, 600 to 700 tons, is mainly supplied by the German company ALZCHEM to BASF Brazil.


In 2021, the unit price of ALZCHEM's supply was about $3.3/kg, while the unit price of Chinese goods was generally $2.3 to $2.4/kg.





Imports from the US are declining, but the reasons are still being analyzed. Currently, reader's feedback attribute this fact largely to climate change.

Cyanamide in Peru


It is noted that cyanamide imported by Peru mainly comes from China, while other supplies are largely from multinationals. So are there more opportunities for Chinese suppliers to export to Peru? Here is our analysis. We also appreciate the professional input of Generic Chemical. While exporting cyanamide formulations, Generic Chemical is researching the optimized application of cyanamide + NGC-1 products according to the needs of growers, to promote earlier dormancy breaking. In addition to earlier dormancy breaking, through regulating the secretion of endogenous hormones in grapes, germination can be made as uniform and orderly, as much as possible.


Statistical data in 2019 showed that Peru's grape planting area was 33,238 Ha, while its blueberry planting area was 10,001 Ha, and its apple planting area covered 9,457 Ha. Cyanamide was applied mostly to grape crops, which are primarily planted in Ica, southwestern Peru, where the grape planting area accounts for 42.7% of total crops, as well as in Piura, northwestern Peru, where the grape planting area accounts for 25.9%.

A single grape farm in Peru has an area of over 15 Ha, equipped with comprehensive infrastructure. Due to the country's relatively dry weather, it largely has a drip irrigation facility. The planting pattern is mostly wide spaced hedge planting, and the average hectare yield is 37.5 to 45 tons, with the fruit type being mainly large panicle. The annual season of cyanamide use on Peruvian grapes is from May to July, applied via dry spraying. 



In recent years, the import volume of cyanamide formulations to Peru has remained relatively stable, with an annual import weight of nearly 3,000 tons, of which BASF's DORMEX® has the highest market share, while the market share of formulations in the end market is close to 50%. However, due to the impact of the prohibition of cyanamide in the EU, as well as the recent impact of climate change in Peru, coupled with changes to planted grape varieties, the cyanamide market tended to be saturated, according to the feedback given by Peruvian readers. The mainstream brands include DORMEX x 200 L at $1,479; RAPIBROT x 200 L at $1,538; and FITOBROT x 200 L at $1,566, all include a tax of 18%, so no significant profits will be left for distributors.


Registered Crops and Dose of BASF DORMEX®



Image from Internet

As a down-stream product of the coal-based chemical industry, cyanamide does have some safety issues, which is also why it is banned in the EU. Even so, it cannot be denied that cyanamide is a unique and effective dormancy breaking product. As well as the Americas, its application in the Middle East is growing. However, in view of the product characteristics of cyanamide, the companies that deal with the product, such as BASF and Longyou East Anasac Crop Science, must be able to manage its purification, storage, transportation and application.

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