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Sugar beet growers have two new varieties to choose from following publication of the recommended list for 2024. Two new varieties added to 2024 sugar beet list

• Built-in tolerance to disease

• Talk options with breeders

• Dry summer was challenge

Sugar beet growers have two new varieties to choose from following publication of the recommended list for 2024.

Osprey is an AYPR rhizomania tolerant variety from SESVanderHave UK for growing in areas where the disease is present. RL trials are carried out on AYPR-free sites and Osprey yielded 99.2% of the controls’ adjusted tonnes/ha with 16.9% sugar content.

Smart Vesnica KWS is an ALS tolerant variety which achieved an adjusted yield of 94.0% and 17.4% sugar content. These yields were achieved in trials treated with conventional herbicides. Higher yields are expected when the ALS herbicide system is used.

As both varieties are new to the list, there is limited data on their tolerances to foliar diseases. Neither variety has any restriction on sowing date. Five varieties were withdrawn which means the 2024 list comprises 19 varieties.

Dry summer

“The 2022 trials were subjected to a very dry summer and this was one of the major factors that affected establishment of two of the eight RL trials which were not taken to harvest, said RL board chairman Mike May.

“One of the harvested trials was rejected by the statisticians owing to variability in growth across the site. There were six NL trials sown with four suitable for harvest. None of the trials suffered significant damage from virus yellows or beet moth larvae.”

All the RL trials were sown at 9cm spacing and then gapped whilst all the NL trials harvested had been sown to a stand. Harvest of the NL trials was completed by mid-October and the RL by mid November.

Mr May said: “Once again all credit must go to the teams working on the project both in the field and tarehouse for ensuring sufficient trials were harvested and analysed to allow this RL programme to be completed on time.”

The yield of the control varieties for the 2024 list was 103.3 adjusted tonnes per hectare. This compareds to 112.0t/ha in 2021 and 105.8t/ha in 2020. Average sugar content (17.2%) was similar to the previous two years.

Plant populations

The average plant population of the five controls was 99,000/ha. This compared to 100,900/ha for the 2023 RL and 98,000/ha for the 2022 RL.  The number of bolters from early sown trials was lower than in 2021 and 2020.

The numbers of early-sown bolters are from trials sown between mid-February up to the first five days of March. Growers should use the early sown bolting figures for guidance if sowing early, or if very cold or other stressful conditions are expected.

Those five varieties indicated by X in the tables are not recommended for sowing before the 15th March but present a much lower risk for normal sowing. In some instances breeders may suggest some other varieties should not be sown early.

“Before ordering any of the special varieties bred for BCN, AYPR, yellowing virus tolerance or ALS herbicide tolerance, growers should discuss options with the BBRO and breeders who will have more information on their performance and use,” said Mr May.