Benefits of low bolting and commercial experience in sugar beet variety selection

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With five additions to the BBRO/BSPB Recommended List of sugar beet varieties for the 2017 crop, growers are again faced with more new choices. However, if the current season is any indicator, growers will again keep a high proportion of their choice in established varieties.

For three years running, HAYDN, from sugar beet breeder Strube, has taken the maximum market share of 20% allowed by British Sugar for a single variety. On the new List, it is the highest yielding Fully Recommended variety.

Richard Powell, UK Managing Director of Strube, puts the continued popularity of HAYDN down to its proven commercial performance and exceptionally low level of bolting.

“HAYDN has the best resistance to bolting of all available varieties, markedly ahead of all the new varieties. This gives growers a number of advantages. It allows growers the greatest flexibility of drilling time and unlocks the potential yield benefits of early drilling without risk.

Many growers want to have at least one variety in their portfolio which they can safely drill as soon as conditions allow without giving them a mass of bolters;” says Richard Powell. “Bolters are unsightly and costly, both in terms of their control and their effect in the crop. Without good bolting resistance, growers could find themselves waiting too long to make a start on drilling and that is not a good situation.”

Strube also claim that the consistent commercial performance of HAYDN has encouraged growers to continue to prefer it to newer varieties – many of which it outperformed in last year’s campaign. As Richard Powell explains “For the trials on which the Recommended List reports, only 1 kg of seed per year is required for the new varieties. In those same years of trials, we have been delivering up to 30 tonnes of commercial bulks of HAYDN, giving a real picture of commercial performance.”

Finally, growers need to consider genetic diversity, which is why no single variety is allowed to take more than 20% of the market. Many of the varieties that show the highest yields on the new List have been bred by the same seed house. Again, in the interests of managing risk, it makes sense to choose varieties from different breeders.

Strube also have PASTEUR on the new List. PASTEUR is another high-yielding, Fully Recommended sugar beet variety, with good establishment and very low bolting. PASTEUR is particularly well liked by growers for its vigorous early growth, larger top and good ground cover. This is now particularly important, as the only effective control for wheat bulb fly larvae (Chlorpyrifos) was withdrawn in the last month. As Richard Powell explained “If there is open ground between the rows in the sugar beet crop in July and August, the wheat bulb fly can lay its eggs and this could now detrimentally impact the following wheat crop. A full canopy prevents this.”

In the Descriptive List of varieties for special use, Strube have introduced DAVY, a new nematode-tolerant variety with excellent tolerance to BCN and low levels of multiplication. This joins THOR, the only Fully Recommended BCN tolerant variety, which offers very good tolerance of beet cyst nematodes and the lowest bolting of all the specialist varieties. THOR is the only BCN tolerant variety that would be suitable for early sowing.

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