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Nine new beet varieties join Recommended List

The BBRO Recommended List of sugar beet varieties 2014 was announced at a recent open day held by the organisation on a farm near Peterborough

The BBRO Recommended List of sugar beet varieties 2014 was announced at a recent open day held by the organisation on a farm near Peterborough, from where Dominic Kilburn gathered information on the latest varieties on offer.The launch of the 2014 British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) Recommended List saw nine varieties being newly recommended in all; five conventional, two with a special recommendation for resistance to beet cyst nematode and two with a special new recommendation for the AYPR strain of rhizomania.With a total of 20 varieties now featuring on the list, all are categorised as being ‘partially’ resistant to rhizomania. New variety Stingray, from breeder SesVanderHave, tops the overall List and comes with a sugar yield of 102.2 per cent against controls.Newly recommended Haydn, ranked second (101.7 per cent) is bred by Strube, with other new variety Master, from Limagrain, just below it at 101.5 per cent.Haydn is ranked first or second for all the key parameters on which recommended varieties are assessed and which are the key drivers for profitability for both growers and industry, said Strube UK.Newly recommended Springbok, also from SesVanderHave, is ranked fifth on the List (101.4 per cent), while Frazze (Maribo) is ranked ninth (99.7 per cent).Material with a greater tolerance to the aggressive AYPR strains of rhizomania include newly recommended Sandra from KWS (99 per cent) and Magistral from SesVanderHave (94.6 per cent).
Five varieties are listed for special use where BCN is a problem of which two are new; Mongoose (96.7) from SesVanderHave, and Pamina (94.7) from Limagrain. According to BBRO, four per cent of the current crop in the ground is sown to varieties with a special recommendation for BCN, while the pest is estimated to be present in 10 per cent of the sugar beet growing area.”These varieties give significant yield and financial advantages in infected fields compared with the leading conventional varieties,” said RL board chairman Mike May, speaking at a recent BBRO open day.Commenting on variety selection from the 2014 List, Mike stressed that it was very important that growers realise the difference in sugar yield between the top of the List and those near the bottom. “All varieties on the List are in a different league to those produced 10 years ago, but there’s a five per cent yield advantage from the highest yielding on the List over the lowest yielding, excluding specialist varieties, and that’s a value difference of 140/ha.”My advice however, when studying the new List ahead of ordering seed for next season’s plantings, would be to select one or two of the top ranked varieties in addition to some that growers already have experience of, and that have already performed well, on their farms.”Mike also stressed the importance of selecting the right varieties when sowing early. “BBRO is sowing trials early to see the difference in bolting between varieties and our advice to anyone who likes to drill before 10th March is that they should carefully select the more tolerant varieties.In terms of disease control, Mike pointed out that the resistance to rust and powdery mildew varies greatly between varieties and that both diseases have the potential to reduce yield. However, he stressed that all variety yield trials were treated with a two-spray commercial fungicide programme and that growers are advised to adopt the same approach.”The UK has access to some of the highest quality sugar beet seed in Europe and growers should use the best genetics available.”Seed represents 15 per cent of the average grower’s beet production costs and, while the highest priced seed isn’t necessarily the best, growers shouldn’t shy away from paying for the best available,” he concluded.Improved genetic performance
SesVanderHave UK said that its new varieties provide growers with improved genetic performance both in terms of yield and dealing with specific challenges of beet production.
According to general manager, Ian Munnery (left), Stingray breaks new ground as the highest yielding variety on the 2014 list. It offers both exceptional yield and low bolting, he said.”Springbok builds on the success of our UK standard rhizomania tolerant varieties and Mongoose is tailored to the needs of growers who have confirmed BCN infestations.
“It delivers the highest yield available in such circumstances combined with the lowest pf/pi ratio to minimise the increase of the pest,” he added.Magistral is a Tandem variety that provides a tested, low bolting solution for growers with AYPR infestations confirmed on their land.On variety selection, Ian said that sugar yield has to be the top priority; however, when looking at the new Recommended List, growers should pay particular attention to consistency in both yield and bolting scores from year to year. “The main difference between varieties is the scores for early sown bolters and normal sown bolters,” he commented.”Even if you have a large acreage to drill it is impractical and unrealistic to choose varieties for early or late sowing. Normally, everything is sown in a very short window and the following weather remains unpredictable. For instance, if it wasn’t for snow in March 2013, far more of the national crop would have been sown into what turned out to be one of the coldest March’s on record” elevating the risk of significant bolting.”Nobody likes bolters in a commercial crop, so select the more robust varieties for early sown bolting to minimise the risk,” pointed out Ian.He said that selecting a variety should be a simple and straightforward process. “Begin by defining what traits you actually need based on proof not guesswork. Fortunately, on-going work by the BBRO plant clinic has helped define the scale and importance of pests such as BCN and AYPR rhizomania.”However, around 95 per cent of growers have neither BCN nor AYPR present on their land and if you are in this category, then concentrate on varieties with standard resistance to rhizomania.”This approach will deliver more yield and improved agronomic performance compared with ‘special’ varieties. If however you have BCN or the AYPR isolate of rhizomania confirmed, you need a variety with the trait to deal with your issue” he added.First variety for new UK company
Also new to the Recommend List is Haydn, from Strube UK. Hayden has proved its consistency over three years of official trials, according to UK managing director, Richard Powell. “It is ranked first or second for all the key parameters on which recommended varieties are assessed and which are the key drivers for profitability for both growers and industry.
“We are confident that this is a variety which growers can rely on to deliver value, particularly if we have another tough season” he added.Haydn offers the highest sugar content and lowest bolting of any of the leading varieties, a combination which Strube claims makes it ideal for growing in the UK, he continued. “For those wishing to move with the times, Haydn is the ideal progression in variety choice for 2014, offering higher yield, lower bolting and higher sugar content than the best of the 2013 varieties.” Haydn is the first sugar beet variety to be introduced by Strube’s new UK company, based in Norfolk and established late in 2012 to support growers in this country and coordinate sales, trials and research activities. Among other Strube varieties on the List, Pasteur is a popular choice that has been drilled by a quarter of UK growers this year, also combining high sugar content with low bolting, pointed out Richard.Two additions
Limagrain UK new varieties Master and Pamina are high yielding in their respective market segments and represent a “step forward” in terms of output and management ease, said the company, exhibiting at the BBRO event.Master combines good establishment habits and strong disease ratings making it easy to manage, said the company. With a sugar yield of 101.5 per cent of controls it is the third highest yielding variety on the list, but with a score of 7 for rust and a 5 for mildew it offers the best disease resistance of any of the top-rated varieties.“Master is an exceptional variety,” said Limagrain sugar beet consultant Bram van der Have (left). “It features top line performance for yield, sugar content and establishment. To combine these attributes with excellent disease scores represents a step forward in all-round variety performance,” he added.”Its disease resistance will be welcomed by growers looking to spread the spraying workload among more susceptible varieties and those who like to lift later in the season. An excellent establishment score that is in excess of the mean of the control varieties will give growers the confidence that Master has the vigour needed to get going even in challenging situations.”Master is likely to appeal most to those with large areas to plant or who find crops perform best when drilled at normal timings,” he said.
Its other new variety Pamina, like Master, is bred by Betaseed GmbH, while Limagrain is the marketing agent in the United Kingdom.In RL trials on uninfested sites Pamina produced a performance of 95 per cent of controls; a very competitive performance for a BCN tolerant variety and putting it among the top three varieties in this category.”Pamina is a strong variety combining excellent yield potential with the highest sugar content of any BCN-resistant variety at 18.8 per cent. Add to this its exceptional bolting performance and good establishment and Pamina is a variety that can be sown with confidence over a wide timespan,” said Bram.Tolerance to new strains
KWS UK has launched its second sugar beet variety containing the new Rz2 gene that gives tolerance to new strains of rhizomania.Sandra KWS becomes the highest yielding variety in a new category on the BBRO Recommended List for 2014 and is specifically recommended for situations where the AYPR strain of rhizomania is suspected or confirmed.It joins sister variety Isabella KWS on the List, which was recommended last year and has been planted in AYPR situations across ‘at risk’ beet growing regions this season.
According to KWS UK sugar beet manager, Simon Witheford, at 99.2 per cent (adjusted tonnes), Sandra offers a significant adjusted yield advantage over Isabella.”With yields outside an AYPR infestation ahead of some recommended varieties Sandra was probably unlucky to miss out on full recommendation and could be grown on the back of this yield performance alone,” he said.”It is 4.7 per cent higher yielding than Magistral, the other newcomer in the AYPR category, and this should give it wide appeal for those who want to maintain yields and yet employ an alternative rhizomania resistance strategy compared with other varieties,” he said.
“Those who feel that yields in recent years may have plateaued or could be in decline, could test Sandra in their own fields – perhaps alongside current varieties – to see if this can be reversed.”  “Varieties such as Sandra – with the Rz2 gene – have already been adopted in countries with AYPR issues such as France and Holland, the latter where it has a 10 per cent market share” he said.”While the incidences of confirmed AYPR resistant strains remain low across most of England, we see it as the ideal selection for those looking to adopt new technology and spread their rhizomania risks.  Sandra is just three per cent behind the Recommended List leader, and that’s a small yield penalty when you consider its potential to tolerate new strains of rhizomania,” he commented.Consistent performer
Hilary Snow, UK representative for Maribo, a sugar beet breeding company owned by Syngenta, said that Frazze is the company’s first new variety for three years and offers a good sugar yield at 99.7 per cent of controls.Ranked ninth overall on the List, Frazze had performed consistently well over the past three years of trials and was extremely well placed for bolting when normally sown (7/ha), she said.”Everyone tends to focus on the top few varieties on the List, but they are all good and, statistically, all the varieties are very close in terms of sugar yield, adjusted tonnes and root yields,” she pointed out.The company’s last big variety to make the Recommended List was Palace, and Hilary commented that there were several varieties in the pipeline.Questions over establishment problems remain
BBRO lead scientist Mark Stevens (left) has said that there is no point in speculating about the cause of the poor establishment of some sugar beet crops this spring, until a full investigation has been completed, and he warned growers that it might be months before any firm answers are found. “There’s absolutely no consistency in those crops that have been affected and it would be wrong to speculate at this point in time.”He stressed that he had witnessed poor establishment in all of the leading varieties on the Recommended List this season and that it was certainly not a problem that should be attributed to Cayman alone, one of the first varieties to be identified as having establishment issues this spring.”I’ve just been walking through a field of Cayman in west Suffolk which was drilled on 6th March and it’s looking fantastic,” he pointed out. “The variety is one of the most widely grown, and also sown early, and so it is not surprising that it was one of the first varieties to be identified.” Mark said that a series of cold tests will be carried out to try and get to the bottom of the problem and independent laboratories would be involved, feeding information back to the BBRO. “BBRO will lead the investigation and pass on the information to the industry, but we are talking months rather than weeks before we might possibly have answers.”He reminded growers to continue to monitor crops, particularly those which had been re-drilled more recently following wind blow, which had also affected crop establishment this spring. “If they think they have a problem then they should take photos, record the seed lots and make notes of all the treatments carried out. The more information we have the better chance we have of finding the answer.”Speaking at the BBRO open day held at Thorney, near Peterborough, head of BBRO Colin MacEwan estimated that there had been approximately 100 formal complaints from growers regarding crop establishment by the middle of May. “The problems seem to stem from a range of drilling dates in crops planted up to 8th April,” he pointed out, “and the BBRO will review all possible factors that may have caused it including seed vigour, seed treatment loadings, temperatures and soil conditions.”British Sugar’s head of commercial agriculture, Richard Nicholls, who also sits on the BBRO R&D board, said that the majority of the crop is fine however the poor establishment has been more pronounced where soil temperatures were coldest. “As well as low establishment levels of 50-70,000 plants/ha, we are also seeing poor growth in those crops affected.”Seed priming technology
With growers raising concerns about the emergence of their sugar beet crops, particularly in earlier sown fields, beet seed priming company Germains put out a statement saying that “early indications suggest that the issue has been strongly influenced by this year’s unusually cold spring weather”. Germains, which produces Xbeet seed priming technology for all sugar beet crops planted for British Sugar in the UK, said that it was working very closely with its customers, the NFU and British Sugar, and with the BBRO and the seed breeders to evaluate and understand the cause.What about the price?
NFU sugar board chairman and beet grower, William Martin, said that it was impossible to tell at this stage as to what had caused the poor establishment in some crops this spring. “The weather hasn’t helped, for sure – everything on the farm is struggling,” he pointed out.”It’s important that we do the impartial tests to find the answers, to learn from them and avoid the same thing happening again in the future.” William added that the new sugar beet price would be announced at Cereals and that he was confident that British Sugar understood what growers needed.”I think British Sugar’s managing director Richard Pike has made a good effort to get on farm and speak to growers and so I am hopeful that this is a good sign.”  2014 BBRO Recommended List


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