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An effective weed control programme is likely to pay dividends on sugar beet this spring – with the crop worth significantly more money this... ‘Power-up’ weed control to boost sugar beet crops

• Higher beet price justifies investment

• Consider co-formulated applications

• Target wider range of problem weeds

An effective weed control programme is likely to pay dividends on sugar beet this spring – with the crop worth significantly more money this year.

Sugar beet prices are up to 50% higher than last year for growers who are willing to commit to producing a crop in 2023 and 2024 – and a well-considered programme is likely to deliver a decent yield response.

There is scope for growers to secure a 10-20% yield increase in well managed sugar beet crops compared to fields where weed control is below par, says Adama herbicide technical specialist Bill Lankford.

“In recent years, sugar beet growers have predominantly relied on phenmedipham based herbicides to control the majority of weeds,” he says.

Control strategy

But relying on a single key active ingredient is unlikely to provide complete control where weed flora has diversified due to changes in agricultural practices and legislation has forced a move to less effective suspension concentrate formulations.

A wider array of products should therefore be used alongside phenmedipham, says Dr Lankford. Against key yield-robbing weed species, this includes actives such as metamitron, quinmerac, ethofumesate, clopyralid, dimethenamid-p and propaquizafop.

“The easiest active to incorporate into programmes is metamitron thanks to its broad label, good crop safety and dual contact and residual activity. It also partners well with quinmerac which delivers added efficacy, especially in dry conditions thanks to its useful water solubility.”

Robust approach

Dr Lankford says adding metamitron and quinmerac enables growers to ‘power-up’ their current herbicide strategies by targeting a wider range of target weeds including cleavers, bindweed, black nightshade, fool’s parsley and common field speedwell.

“Including additional active ingredients into the tank mix doesn’t come for free, but growers can be assured that products such as Goltix (metamitron 700 g/L) and Goltix Titan (metamitron 525 g/L and quinmerac 40 g/L) will pay for themselves.”

A robust programme of early season weed control – either as pre-emergence or early post-emergence treatments – will boost crop yields and can help growers manage workloads by giving some flexibility in terms of application timings.

“Active ingredients such as quinmerac aren’t cheap. But where the weed burden is high and includes difficult to control species, its addition is more than worth it, especially when sugar beet prices are so buoyant.”

Easy-to-use

Adama developed its PowerTwin co-formulation of phenmedipham (200 g/l) and ethofumesate (200 g/l) for farmers who want an easy-to-use formulation of these two actives to tackle a range of weeds.

“Its combination of a residual and a contact herbicide, and compatibility with six common adjuvants makes PowerTwin easy to incorporate into weed programmes, with growers able to adjust the rate of application according to their specific weed burden.

“We’re also in the process of bringing a straight ethofumesate product which has a higher individual dose to the market so that growers can control established weeds more effectively at the post-emergence timing.”