One of the BBRO’s BeetField19 summer technical events took place in early July near Diss in Norfolk. Dominic Kilburn reports.
Primed and ready for lift-off
Germains has launched its enrich 200 seed priming technology, as the latest addition to its Xbeet enrich series. As well as containing an elicitor to help cope with stress (like existing product enrich 100), enrich 200 contains a plant-derived biostimulant to boost early plant growth.
Germains lead scientist Jordon Long (below) said the addition of the biostimulant boosts early plant development resulting in faster growth, less time to reach plant maturity and earlier canopy development.
“In the spring, sugar beet plants are vulnerable and so anything we can do to help establishment and get the leaves out is a good thing,” he commented.
He said that, in laboratory tests, the company had seen an increase in size of early plant development when comparing enrich 200 with enrich 100 and unprimed seed.
“In field, small plot trial measurements taken between 4–8 leaf stage, enrich 200 gave 5 per cent more leaf area at this growth stage, compared with enrich 100.”
He said that the biostimulant element of enrich 200 had been trialled over a number of years across a range of pellet types and, on average, has shown a 1.3 per cent increase in adjusted yield in comparison to control.
“Given an average yield, 1.3 per cent improvement in yield is equivalent to an additional £22/ha to a grower,” he concluded.
The sweetest thing
High sugar content is a feature of Betaseed varieties, said distributor Limagrain’s sugar beet consultant Bram van der Have (below), pointing out that newly-recommended BTS 4100 has the highest sugar content on the whole List (18.4 per cent).
“Growers need to produce crops with both high root yield and sugar content but variable agronomic conditions mean that you are not always going to achieve the latter,” he continued. “On heavier land it’s not an issue, but on organic soils conditions need to be good to deliver high sugar content, so growers in this situation are better off selecting a high sugar content variety to have the opportunity to maximise yield.”
Mr van der Have said that BTS 4100 is an early driller, suited to sowing in March and through April. It has an adjusted tonnes figure of 101.8 per cent, sugar yield of 101.5 per cent and is rhizomania tolerant.
“For normal and late drilling, BTS 1140 is still a top yielding option in its second year of commercial planting, and is one of the most popular varieties currently in the ground,” he commented.
On the issue of virus yellows, he said that, as a breeder, the company is working as hard as it can to try and develop varieties with more genetic tolerance and resistance.
“There is adult plant tolerance already, so we know it’s something we can do – but it’s a race against time.”
Choose your cultivation tool carefully
Sugar beet is incredibly responsive to soil conditions and will pay dividends if the soil is well structured with natural fissures, said BBRO’s Dr Simon Bowen (right).
Dr Bowen said that this type of soil – a Beccles chalk boulder clay – is a challenge for sugar beet growers and, ideally, he would like to see roots down to 1m, while any plants living in the top 0.3m (12in) of the soil profile will go “up or down with the weather”.
He said that growers can improve the topsoil ahead of beet with manures and cover crops, but it is key that they look below this layer in order to determine their cultivation strategy. “This is a good time of the year to go into fields and look at the soil profile. Choose your cultivation tool carefully – one size doesn’t fit all – and if the crop can’t get to depth, it will wither.”
Use the latest data
Looking ahead to next season’s drilling, if soil conditions are right then drill crops as early as possible and then get them through the juvenile stage to 12-true leaves as soon as possible. This hardens off the root and the leaves which restricts or reduces damage, advised SES VanderHave managing director Ian Munnery (left).
“The flip side of that is the risk of bolting in the UK if it’s cold and so ahead of selecting varieties for next season, early-sown bolting scores are an important consideration on the Recommended List.
“In addition, early sowing can give 10–15 per cent yield advantage compared with crops sown in mid April. That yield advantage is critical and gives UK growers a huge advantage.”
Mr Munnery said that rust is probably the most important disease to manage in the UK and, again, varietal scores on the RL are key to helping to protect the canopy and the crop.
“Make sure you use the latest data before you order varieties and seed treatments for the coming season,” he added.
Seedling disease protection and rooting boost
With the claim of giving sugar beet crops a better start as well as providing protection from a range of diseases, Syngenta attended the event to discuss its new seed treatment Vibrance SB, containing sedaxane + fludioxonil + metalaxyl-M.
Field technical manager, Georgina Wood said that a limited amount of Vibrance SB had been applied to crops this season but it will be available as an option on a number of varieties on the seed list for the 2020 beet planting season.
According to Georgina, Vibrance SB has been shown to develop a faster root system for rapid and strong spring establishment, along with effective control of rhizoctonia, pythium and phoma seed diseases.
“With the loss of Thiram seed treatment, Vibrance SB is now the only broad-spectrum treatment available and better control of these diseases will provide more consistent plant stands, also resulting in easier harvesting,” she explained.
“Early emergence and getting the crop to the 12-leaf stage as quickly as possible is key for sugar beet and Vibrance SB has been shown to develop a faster rooting system and quicker spring establishment,” she added.