Mildew response saved beet growers millions
AN "UNPRECEDENTED" response to powdery mildew warnings saved sugar beet growers more than £8m this season, according to IACR-Brooms Barn.
By the end of August two-thirds of the UK crop was affected by the disease. It arrived particularly early – as soon as the third week in July in some areas, notes Dr Mike Asher.
But growers heeded warning notices so well that by the end of August 78% of the crop had been treated, mainly with an application of sulphur.
Corresponding yield lift
Using a "conservative" yield response of 5% to a single sulphur spray, he estimates the corresponding yield lift on the 112,000ha (277,000 acres) infected is more than 0.25m adjusted tonnes worth over £10m.
Net benefit, even allowing for the costs of treatment on the 78% area including £5/ha (£2/acre) for application, still exceeds £8m.
• Irrigation is unlikely to "spread" rhizomania, as previously reported (Arable, Oct 20), notes Dr Asher. The key is that it allows the disease to be detected more easily, he explains.