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Maintain beet gene spread to include proven performance

Beet growers should select varieties that will maintain genetic diversity across their area for the 2015 growing season, advised Syngenta Technical Manager, James Evans.

james evans in field

James Evans, Syngenta Technical Manager

Beet growers should select varieties that will maintain genetic diversity across their area for the 2015 growing season, advised Syngenta Technical Manager, James Evans.

He warned against over reliance on a limited gene pool from one single breeder, which would increase expose to the risk of resistance or adverse conditions.

“Industry advisors have countenanced caution in selecting varieties from the new Recommended List for 2015 planting to spread risk,” advised Mr Evans. “We recommend growers adopt a sensible approach to incorporate some new options, whilst maintaining the reliability of varieties such as SY Muse that have been proven to perform, even in difficult seasons.”

He pointed out that with all the 10 varieties on the 2015 BBRO/BSPB Recommended List performing at very similar yield levels there was no clear advantage in wholesale change. “Trying out a new variety will help growers to ascertain how it may perform on their farm and ensure they remain at the vanguard of varietal potential. But equally, when SY Muse has been so reliable in so many situations, growers can have confidence in its establishment, easy growing and high yield at harvest.”

sugar beet

Healthy Sugar beet

Consistent results are the key reason that SY Muse has stayed as one of the lead varieties for Lincolnshire grower, Oliver Smith, of Stourton Estates, near Horncastle. This season the 65-hectare sugar beet crop has been drilled in mostly good conditions, with half the area sown with SY Muse.

The even establishment and early vigour was a key factor in achieving good yields from heavier land last year, he reported, even with the crop lifted early to avoid risk of soil damage.  “Typically the stronger soil is prone to drying out with poorer establishment, but the Muse did extremely well given the season,” he said.

For Mr Smith the other prime attribute for variety selection is low bolting. The farm is undertaking a major investment to eradicate a legacy of weed beet in the five-year rotation, so minimising any seed return from the current crop is imperative. “The Muse proved to be very clear of bolters, which is a significant advantage to us for the long-term commitment to sugar beet,” he added. To minimise any potential bolting, SY Muse drilling is recommended from 1 March onwards in typical conditions.

“I have also been loyal to specific breeders,” he added. “We have always included a Hilleshog or Syngenta variety, since they tend to breed varieties which are consistent season to season.”

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