RHIZOMANIA HAS been confirmed on four times as many sites as last year, according to the latest industry survey.

In total 196 suspect fields were identified from the air by the joint British Sugar/ National Farmers Union Rhizomania survey, of which 153 were later confirmed as being Rhizomania positive.

This compares to 91 suspect fields and 37 positive cases last year.

But the increase is largely due to ideal conditions for the disease this season and the virulent p-type has not been found, the survey pointed out.

Late drilling, higher-than-average spring temperatures and high rainfall have all favoured the disease this year, said British Sugar‘s John Price.

Despite the increase, the total area infected is still less than 1% of the total arable area within the sugar beet rotation, the survey found.

This compares to an 80% infection in the Netherlands, 60% in France and 40% in Belgium and Germany, said Mr Prince.

In addition, the price of tolerant varieties on farms where rhizomania has been identified has fallen from £7.50 per 100,000 seed unit to £3 for 2005, he added.