KWS has launched a soil sampling and testing service making it easier for sugar-beet growers to test fields for beet cyst nematode (BCN).


The service costs £20 a sample, which should cover a 4ha block, collected and sent in by the grower.

KWS is also offering a contractor quadbike sampling service costing £25 for a basic sample, or £35 a sample including GPS field mapping.

KWS’s UK sugar beet manager Simon Witheford said the number of samples testing positive to the nematode has been increasing annually.

“Early tests this year confirm that the pest is at higher levels in infected fields,” he noted.

“This means that varieties with low-level tolerance may be inappropriate and unable to cope with the increased population levels.”

BCN damage is being increasingly reported on a range of fen and mineral soils across the eastern counties, and into light land soils in the Cantley and Newark factory regions.

Symptoms typically include wilting and the proliferation of lateral roots causing a bearding effect similar to that caused by rhizomania.

However, the clearest indication of a BCN attack is the appearance of pinhead-sized white or brown cysts, visible to the naked eye.

At a low infestation level of 2.5 eggs and larvae a gram of soil, up to 10% of potential yield can be lost. Higher infestations can result in 30-40% of yield loss.

Growers interested in the soil analysis service should contact KWS on 01763 207 300.