HARVEST POOR sugar beet crops first and leave healthy fields to bulk up, growers have been advised.

Between September and mid-November, healthy crops can increase yield by around 10t/ha, while bulking-up in diseased or gappy crops can be half this, according to the British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO).

Growers also need to ensure as much beet as possible is lifted and delivered on a “just-in-time” basis and so must co-ordinate with their haulier, said Mike May from the BBRO’s Broom’s Barn.

“Where early lifted beet have to be stored short term, leave them in long thin clamps with ‘hills and troughs’ to maximise the surface area of the clamp and so minimise losses due to the clamp heating up.”

Growers also need to calculate the amount of clamp area (plus bales and covers) required for post November lifting, he said.

If weed beet are present, the field should be left two or three weeks after harvest before cultivating, he added. “This will enable mice, birds and beetles to get some of the seed and eat it for you.”

Any growers planning early lifting of beet crops treated with Hallmark (lambda-cyhalothrin), against Silver Y moths, should remember that this has an eight week harvest interval, Mr May noted.

All aspects of sugar beet production, including agronomy, policy, crop profitability and harvesting technology will be on show at this year’s Beet UK event.

The event will be held on 19 October 2005 at Boothby Heath farm, south of Lincoln and further information can be found at www.beetuk.co.uk