15 November 1996

Investment is good for beet

Investment is good for beet

ANY impression that basic science brings little benefit to growers was firmly dismissed by Dr Alan Dewar of IACR Brooms Barn.

An investment of £0.25m on virus yellows forecasting brought sugar beet growers a 20-fold return last year, he explained.

Detailed studies show a clear link between late winter frosts, the arrival of winged aphids and likely virus levels. Last years forecast showed a 33% infection risk, so insecticides were used, cutting infection to 14%. That represented 300,000t of clean beet, worth £11.7m, or £5m after insecticide costs, Dr Dewar noted.

This autumns discovery of aphids resistant to all leading spray-on insecticides (Arable, Nov 8) further demonstrates the value of such work, he added. "They arrived too late to hit beet this year, but we are now worried what might happen next year if they survive the winter. Its another reason why we need to keep monitoring aphid populations."n