Blue anaerobic soil layers caused much of the poor beet growth this season, Broom’s Barn’s investigations in several commercial crops have shown.

Often the result of ploughing under adverse conditions, the compacted areas didn’t allow the torrential rains of June and July to drain away and led to root kill, explained Keith Jaggard.

Advising growers to plough only when conditions were good was akin to teaching “grandmother to suck eggs”, he admitted. “But an awful lot of grandmothers seem to have forgotten how to suck eggs.”

Losses from such ploughing-induced damage could be immense, added Mike May.

“If you really can’t do it yourself under the right conditions, it might be worth getting someone in to do it for you.”