Sugar Beet genetics continue to deliver higher yields with good sugar content

Newly recommended sugar beet variety BTS 1140 reflects the increasing yield potential of sugar beet. This comes hand in hand with excellent sugar content and favourable on-farm agronomics such as low bolting figures at normal sowing date and very good disease resistance.

Bred by Betaseed, and marketed by agents Limagrain UK, the 2019 BBRO Recommended List (RL) clearly shows that the yield potential of BTS 1140 is significantly above the most widely grown varieties in 2018, yielding 107.6 % (adjusted tonnes), over three years of trials. BTS 1140 also has a high sugar content of 18%.

This significant 2-3% increase in yields seen each year in newly recommended sugar beet varieties on the RL is very exciting for the UK’s sugar beet growers. This year the newly recommended varieties offer a 7.6% increase over the control varieties, says Bram Van der Have, sugar beet consultant for Limagrain.

“We are in the fortunate position where breeders are still able to push yields without compromising the sugar content – and this is at a time when many other arable crop yields have plateaued.”

However, the value and importance of on-farm characteristics of sugar beet to UK growers is also reflected in this recommendation, he adds.

“Whilst yield and sugar content are the top criteria for choosing a new sugar beet variety, factors such as establishment and bolting tolerance are also very important – particularly when deciding which variety is the best for a certain situation.”

“For those looking to drill at the normal to later time from mid-March onwards, as most growers will have done this season, BTS 1140 fits this drilling slot very well. It has excellent bolting tolerance – with only 14 bolters per 1000,000 plants/ha – one of the lowest on the RL list. This is combined with good emergence characteristics and a good tolerance to rust. It is also rhizomania tolerant.”

“BTS 1140 is likely to appeal to the grower who wants to take the next step up in yields, and we would encourage growers to try it and take part in raising the bar in sugar beet production even higher.”

2017 saw some of the highest sugar beet yields ever; Limagrain’s varieties BTS 860 and BTS 3325 were no exception and lend themselves well for repeat sowing for the 2019 season.

In fact, BTS 860 was one of the most popular varieties grown in 2017/18 as it has shown itself to be a consistent performer that offers very high yields at 103.9% of controls, alongside one of the highest sugar contents on the Recommended List at 18.2%, says Mr Van der Have.

“Annually, a small part of the national crop is drilled in the early part of March. Early Sown bolting tolerance for varieties sown this early is a key characteristic and BTS 3325 has proven performance in this sector, both commercially and in trials.”

“BTS 3325 has the potential to out-yield many of the traditional varieties drilled in the early sown sector, with the additional benefits of a very high sugar content (18.3%), and excellent disease resistance for rust and powdery mildew.”

High performance on-farm

Michael Wilton of Stody Estate in Norfolk, is always looking for the best performing sugar beet varieties on the Recommended List which means he only grows an individual variety for two-three years.

“I want a variety that is high yielding with a good, quick establishment percentage as I believe that the two things go hand in hand. A consistent high sugar percentage which increases sugar yield per hectare is what we ultimately get paid for.”

“We grow 240ha’s of sugar beet which is split across 4 varieties. I drill after 5th March, so am looking for a normal drilling, low bolting variety.”

 

For these reasons Mr Wilton chose to trial 60ha’s of BTS 860 in 2017. “The crop established very well, even on lighter soils. What stood out was its green leaf retention which was good right through the season, so yields continued to build until harvest, which made the variety suitable for late lifting.”

“All of the BTS 860 yielded slightly above the farm average, but one single field that was irrigated stood out, giving us our highest field yield for 2017 at 112t/ha adjusted yields. This well up on our average farm yields by about 15%. The late lifting also delivered sugars above the farm average of 18% at 18.6%.”

“Based on this excellent performance, we will definitely be growing the variety again this year.”

 

 

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.