15 October 1999
Farms restricted as rhizo spreads

RHIZOMANIA is spreading in Britain, with outbreaks discovered for the first time in Essex and Northamptonshire this year.

One farm in each county was found to be affected by the sugar-beet virus and has been placed under official restrictions by MAFF.

A MAFF statement said that, in comparison to Continental Europe where the disease is widespread, the area affected in Britain “remains small”.

MAFFs 1999 rhizomania survey recorded 52 outbreaks covering 1,700ha.

Thirty-two of these are new outbreaks on previously unaffected farms, while the remainder are extensions on existing outbreak farms.

Since it was first found in the UK in 1987, rhizomania has been discovered on 129 farms.

Until now the disease, which is spread by a soil-borne fungus, had been confined to Norfolk and Suffolk, with a single case in Nottinghamshire.

Around 5700ha of infected land are subject to official restrictions.

While rhizomania can devastate sugar-beet yields, MAFF says there are no known implications for human health