New varieties contribute to rising sugar beet yields.

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The BBRO/BSPB Recommended List of Sugar Beet varieties for 2018 once again marks an increase in the yields available to growers, continuing the long term trend of increased returns from improved genetics.  Average yields have been increasing at over 2% year on year for more than 20 years.

Sugar beet breeder, Strube, has two new varieties on the list, offering genetic diversity at the top of the new list.  LANDON is a new, high sugar variety with excellent establishment which is ideal for later drilling.

Also new is DEGAS, a low-bolting variety for earlier drilling, which combines improved sugar content with vigorous growth for rapid ground cover.

Richard Powell, UK Managing Director of Strube, stresses the need to consider genetic diversity: “This is recognised in UK practice, where no single variety is allowed to take more than 20% of the market. Ten of the twelve highest yielding varieties are derived from a similar genetic background.  In the interests of managing risk, it does make sense to choose varieties from different breeders.”

LANDON and DEGAS join Strube’s established varieties: HAYDN and PASTEUR  which make up nearly one third of the UK National crop in 2017. Richard Powell believes that with so many varieties on the List having only trials data derived from kilos of seed,  it makes good sense to keep a decent proportion of the crop in commercially proven varieties which have been well tested from large productions of commercial seed.

For the fourth year in succession, in 2017, HAYDN will make up nearly 20% of the UK national sugar beet crop, the maximum market share allowed by British Sugar for a single variety. Richard Powell explains HAYDN’s continuing success “The combination of consistent yields, decent sugars and very low bolting in a commercially proven variety still appeals. In the last four years we have supplied over 100 tonnes of seed – so growers know what to expect”

PASTEUR also proves how a sugar beet variety can be successfully scaled up to long term production.  Seven years after first recommendation, PASTEUR is still grown on one in ten fields in the UK.  Once again, it is the combination of consistency of yield, good establishment and low bolting that have retained a strong following for the variety.

In the specialist category, THOR from Strube is the only Fully Recommended variety with tolerance to Beet Cyst Nematode. The variety claims to offer sound, affordable performance in fields infested with nematodes with the added advantage of low bolting to allow earlier drilling.

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