The sugar beet harvest is well under way and yields look good, particularly where growers have used a two-spray fungicide strategy.

Disease pressure has been high throughout the season, with rust prevalent in crops across the UK.

Frontier’s sugar beet technical manager, David Allison, says a “phenomenally large” crop is expected and with a lifting campaign that is set to extend well into next year, keeping disease at bay was crucial.

See also: Grow smaller crop for less money, sugar beet farmers told

He estimates 10% of the UK crop has been lifted so far and yields are expected to reach the dizzying highs of more than 100t/ha in some areas.

“We’ve had almost perfect growing conditions, with rain all the way through to June and a good dry period where the sugars were able to build up.”

“We are constantly improving yields, but these high-yielding varieties can be susceptible to disease, so it is crucial to get your fungicide strategy correct.”
Christine Lilly, Frontier

He points out that with roughly one-third of the yield coming in September through to November, the importance of a second fungicide in later-lifted crops is vital to maintain leaf cover and keep the crop healthy.

“It is important if you are lifting slightly later because you need to ensure you protect the crop throughout the winter and optimise the yield.”

Mr Allison says fungicide applications can give yield increases of up to 10% with a two-spray programme.

Meanwhile, Christine Lilly of Frontier says with the cost of a fungicide approximately £25-30/ha plus about £8-10/ha for the application cost, growers don’t need much yield to make it worthwhile.

“The cost of one fungicide spray is about equivalent to 1t/ha extra beet at this years beet price.” She explains. “We are constantly improving yields, but these high-yielding varieties can be susceptible to disease, so it is crucial to get your fungicide strategy correct.”

In Wellingore, Lincolnshire, early indications from Frontier’s fungicide trials have also highlighted the importance of a two-spray programme.

The trials have looked at a one-, two- and three-spray strategy, along with untreated plots.

With lifting expected to take place in the next two weeks, Ms Lilly says there has been a dramatic response visually and anticipates there to be a big difference in yields and sugar content.