Sugar beet growers will be able to choose from an impressive 22 varieties next season following the recent addition of six new varieties to the Recommended List. But how do you know which will be right for you?

NIAB’s Simon Kerr thinks yield should be the deciding factor and says there will be plenty in the 2008 list that could meet the grade. “There’s a big range of varieties with yields 2% above the mean of the control, which is made up of Anemona, Bandit, Cinderella, Dominika and Bobcat.”

Trinita from Syngenta is the highest yielding, non-rhizomania-resistant variety at 104.5% of control. “It has very high yield potential and has been consistent over the whole trial period. Even last year, when yields were down across the board due to the weather, it still fared well.”

But extra fungicide inputs will be required, as it is only rated 2 for powdery mildew, he notes [see table].

Alota is the second highest yielding variety on the list and produces high sugar contents and adjusted tonnes from moderate root yields, he says. “Pondus from Danisco, using Syngenta genetics, is also a high yielder and produces high sugar contents. Barnowl isn’t the highest yielder, but it’s reasonably good overall, so looks quite promising.”

dilemma


Of the rhizomania-resistant varieties available in 2008, Mr Kerr says Bobcat, Bullfinch and Goya are the main ones with the yield potential growers need. “Bobcat has been going from strength to strength, while others, such as Harry and Mars have slipped by the wayside.”

NEWBEET

The new additions in Goya and Bullfinch both have good yield potential at 102.3% and 102% of control and come close to Bobcat, he says. “Goya is the first decent rhizo-resistor from KWS, producing moderate sugar contents. There aren’t any particular problems with early-sown bolters, which we did have with Miriam [also from KWS]. In fact, none of the varieties have shown any weakness to early-sown bolters so far.”

Despite many rhizomania resistant varieties being more susceptible to rusts, Goya has benefited from the genetic characteristics in Miriam, and has good rust [rated 6] and powdery mildew [7] resistance, he says.

Mr Kerr says all varieties have shown good establishment in trials, typically ranging from 87-93%. “They are now all diploids, so there’s also very little difference in crown height,” he adds.

Details of the new Recommended List will appear in the summer edition of British Sugar Beet Review.