16 May 1997

Frosted beet needs nursing

SUGAR beet plants damaged by frost and herbicide in the east, and hail elsewhere, should recover. But careful treatment will be needed to avoid further trouble.

"Leaf blackening was mainly caused by spraying phenmedipham-based sprays, such as Betanal Tandem or Progress, just before or after the frosts," says Mike May at IACR Brooms Barn. Effects, most common in Lincs and East Anglia, are mainly limited to frost pockets.

"Most crops will recover if growers let them. The crops were sprayed recently, so growers should be on top of the weed problem." That means there is no need to treat until the middle of next week. Even then growers should avoid oil, Mr May warns. It may pay to allow more weeds to germinate so spray choice matches weed spectrum, he adds.

Anyone needing to spray sooner could apply metamitron (eg Goltix) alone until crops have fully recovered, says Mr May.

Similar advice comes from Bill Jones, technical director at Shrops-based David Nunn, following some hail damage on the crop.

"I have not seen plants killed, but hail has certainly dewaxed and bruised crops. Growers should wait as long as possible before spraying again."

Traver Scarff, Suffolk agronomist, is concerned about uneven emergence. Some plants are at the cotyledon stage while others in the same field have several leaves. "We shall stick to the usual chemistry, but we wont add oil."n