Threshold for neonicotinoid seed treatment use reached 

Following the emergency approval granting sugar beet growers to use Cruiser SB for virus yellows control, the threshold for use has now been met. The prohibited neonicotinoid will be available for seed in the 2024/25 sugar beet campaign. 

At the beginning of this year, sugar beet farmers were conditionally granted an emergency authorisation to use Cruiser SB to protect their beets against virus yellows. 

In 2018, Defra supported new rules that prohibit the outdoor use of three neonicotinoids: clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. In taking that position, the government made it clear that it could consider emergency authorisations in special circumstances. 

Highest level

On 18th January the UK’s farming minister, Mark Spencer, approved the emergency authorisation for the use of Cruiser SB, containing the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam for the treatment of sugar beet seed in 2024, in recognition of the potential danger posed to this year’s crop by virus yellows. 

This week, Defra has made the following statement regarding the use of the Cruiser SB for 2024.

It reads: “On 1st March we received the model’s forecast for 2024, which predicted an incidence level of 83%. This means that British Sugar will treat sugar beet seed with Cruiser SB and distribute it to the growers who have ordered it for use on this year’s sugar beet crop.” 

At 65%, this year’s threshold for use is at the highest level it has ever been set. Even though the predicted threshold has been passed, further conditions will be applied to minimise the risk to the environment. 

This includes restrictions on the crops that farmers can plant in subsequent years in any field where treated seed has been used, and compliance with the stewardship scheme to treat and use seed correctly and to monitor the level of neonicotinoids in the environment. 

Defra approved an emergency authorisation for neonicotinoid use in 2023 with a virus incidence threshold of 63% or above. In 2022 the virus incidence threshold was set at 19% or above. 

Read more sugar beet articles.

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