Innovative sugar beet varieties highlight importance of plant breeding

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Sugar beet breeders continue to lead the way in rapidly developing new and improved varieties. Ongoing investment in research and development is bringing new varieties to improve pest and disease resistance whilst also increasing yields. Plant breeders have also demonstrated these varieties can improve nitrogen and water use efficiency. These benefits all count towards ensuring the resilience of UK domestic sugar production in the coming years.

BSPB CEO Sam Brooke comments: “In what has been a challenging couple of years it remains vital that new genetics are constantly brought to market to help growers increase yields by tackling diseases such as virus yellows. Nine new varieties have been added to the Recommended List this year complementing the 13 proven varieties already on the list. This is testament to the tenacity of plant breeders and their ability to address the issues and concerns of sugar beet growers throughout the UK.”

More robust varieties to challenge diseases

The National List and Recommended List are now administered separately to encourage new and improved genetics to reach the UK market as quickly as possible. “By breeding varieties that can increase yields, whilst reducing our reliance on the use of chemistry and nitrogen, we can help to reduce costs and safeguard UK sugar beet production. More robust varieties will help to challenge diseases, but breeders need the security that the UK market can be sustainable in order to continue the high level of investment in R&D,” she adds.

BSPB is working closely with sugar beet breeding members – DLF Beet Seed Ltd, KWS UK Ltd, Limagrain (UK) Ltd, Lion Seeds Ltd, Sesvanderhave UK Ltd and Strube UK Ltd to advocate the importance of sugar beet to crop diversity and the economy. “To do this it is critical that growers are provided with new genetics at the earliest opportunity to sustain production and maintain a competitive edge,” she concludes.

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About Author

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 an avid follower of Stoke City.