Recent cold weather means beet drilling progress so far this season is well behind 2005.

As at 27 March, about 23% (30,000ha) of the total crop has been drilled, compared with 55% last year and 18% in 2004, according to British Sugar.

“Take the earliest opportunity to drill and complete the process rapidly,” advises Mr Limb.

“It’s too early to say what effect this delay could have on yields.

Generally, any delay to leaf canopy means potential sunlight [interception] is lost, which may mean lost yield.

But we could get ideal growing conditions from now on that let crops catch up.”