Three new sugar beet varieties have been added to the 2013 BBRO Recommended List, although uncertainty surrounds the commercial availability of two of them, which are yet to gain National Listing.
A further two varieties with tolerance to beet cyst nematode (BCN), as well as partial resistance to rhizomania, have also joined the list.
Dolphin and Bulldog, both bred by SESVanderHave, and SY Muse from Syngenta Seeds, are all partially resistant to rhizomania. However, of the three, Dolphin and Bulldog are still awaiting National Listing and will only be available if they are accepted onto the list before the contract to growers is sent out in June.
The reason for this change to procedure is that the three newcomers have taken the top three highest yielding places on the list, points out Mike May, chairman of the RL Board with the British Society of Plant Breeders.
“It is unusual to put varieties on the list before they have achieved National Listing,” he acknowledges. “But we felt that growers should be aware of the yield potential of these varieties, so that they can grow them if they do achieve the necessary status.”
Tests are still on-going, he confirms. “At this stage, it’s not possible to predict whether they will be available or not. Growers will be kept informed of any developments.”
This situation only affects Dolphin and Bulldog, not SY Muse, he stresses.
The other two new varieties are Pitbull from SESVanderhave and Thor from Strube, both of which have been added for their special characteristic of beet cyst nematode tolerance. In the UK, Thor will be marketed by Elsoms Seeds.
Syngenta has high expectations of SY Muse, says the company’s sugar beet portfolio manager, Richard Powell.
“It has all the characteristics that UK growers look for,” he notes. “It has given very consistent results over three years of trials, with a mean yield of 113.6 adjusted tonnes/ha.”
That’s a 2.5% increase in sugar yield over the best of the current varieties, he calculates. “And it suits early drilling, with low bolting and good establishment.”
Ian Munnery of SESVanderhave NV/SA believes that the latest Recommended List is self-evident. “There’s been a significant progression on yield. We hope that Dolphin and Bulldog will have their National Listing ratified later on this month, so that growers have the chance to order them.”
He points to the consistent performance of the varieties over the last three years. “It’s also worth highlighting that 2011 was the first year with the new topping regime. Both would seem to be well suited to this approach.”
The company’s other newcomer, Pitbull, which joins the BCN tolerant types, is a good choice where there are high levels of the pest, he adds.
Thor, the other new BCN tolerant variety, has been developed through close co-operation between German plant breeder Strube and independent Lincolnshire seed company, Elsoms.
“Thor has good tolerance to BCN and it also counters the build-up of the pest in the field,” comments Adrian Hayler of Elsoms Seeds.