Breeder welcomes changes to UK sugar beet seed model: ‘It’s a positive step forward’ 

Changes to the UK sugar beet seed model that were announced last week have been warmly welcomed by breeder, SESVanderHave.

Changes to the UK sugar beet seed model that were announced last week have been warmly welcomed by one of the breeders, SESVanderHave.
Photo by SESVanderHave.

On 11th June, NFU Sugar and British Sugar announced reforms to the UK sugar beet seed model, which are set to give growers more choice and flexibility, support innovation and address recurring issues with access to seed – while preserving the most effective parts of the existing model. 

SESVanderHave’s general manager, Ian Munnery, called the changes “a positive step forward” and said that they will enable growers to access the best new products as soon as they are available. 

READ MORE: Changes to UK sugar beet seed model have just been announced

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Strengthening the investment     

He added: “As breeders, we continue to invest heavily in breeding; registering and testing varieties and seed treatments across the UK.   

“Industry recognition of this and empowering growers to access these at the earliest opportunity is a positive step forward. 

“It needs remembering that sugar beet remains one of the few crops that continues to deliver a year-on-year increase in yield and performance. 

Mr Munnery said that maintaining this trajectory with more diverse and robust varieties is essential, given increasing threats from pests, diseases and climate change and the long-term potential the UK maritime climate offers growers. 

“This news underpins our decisions to strengthen our investment in the UK. Since establishing SESVanderHave UK Ltd 12 years ago, this year sees our largest ever number of new varieties entered into first registration trials in the UK.   

“We have also expanded our trials and commercial teams to support the introduction of these varieties,  and have been building our trials network; both replicated trials, farmer strip trials and bioassays,” he continued. 

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Benefits for the whole UK industry 

Mr Munnery said the changes mean breeders will soon have quicker and easier access to new varieties, as well as more relevant and relatable data. 

“We’re confident these changes will deliver many benefits for the whole UK industry and sustain this important break crop for the decades ahead,” he concluded. 

Photo by Gary Naylor Photography.

Following the announcement for contracts from 2025, growers and seed breeders will be empowered to buy and sell seed direct or via third party suppliers, as well as via the existing UK Seed Account, operated by British Sugar and overseen by NFU Sugar.   

This will provide growers with more choices of where and how to buy their seed.  

To supply British Sugar, growers will now be permitted to grow a wider choice of varieties, which is expected to allow earlier uptake of new genetics and increase choice for growers. 

The UK Seed Account, the route through which British Sugar sells seed, will change the way it sells. 

Seed will be sold throughout the year, and stocks will be released for sale as they become available, meaning growers can buy their desired seeds when it’s right for them.  

The BBRO, NFU and British Sugar have also set in motion changes to the Recommended List trials, which will be moving to evaluating finished products, rather than genetics alone.  

The intention is that the revised Recommended List will represent what will actually be bought and tested in the way it will actually be grown. 

Read more sugar beet news

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