7 June 1996

Quantum leap forward in recent years

BRITISH Sugar says growers are constantly being offered better varieties. In recent years the industry has enjoyed a series of quantum leaps forward with the introduction of Aztec, Druid, Saxon and Zulu which set new standards of yield reliability combined with good establishment and bolting resistance.

"There is now serious competition from other breeders, particularly in Germany and Denmark, whose new material has even higher sugar yields and better juice purity," says BSs seed specialist John Prince. "There is still room for improving bolting resistance and establishment, and we are putting a lot of pressure on breeders to come up with new varieties with these improvements."

Madison and Alexa have what BS describes as the characteristics needed by the industry, although Alexa appears a little weak on establishment. These two join other good relatively new varieties on the list.

Jackpot, from Delitzsch, has a high sugar yield and improving establishment. But because it seems weak on bolting it is not suitable for early drilling. Another German variety, Roberta from KWS, which has been elevated to general recommendation by NIAB for 1997, has given a consistently high sugar yield over the past few years. Because of its low bolting it is one of four varieties offered with Advantage priming treatment.

Bolting characteristics

The others are Zulu from Hilleshog, Triumph from Delitzsch, and now also Madison from Danisco. Because of their good bolting characteristics, all four are likely to be drilled early and so benefit most from priming.

Although growers are expected to remain loyal to the popular Hilleshog types, Mr Prince says they should consider growing small areas of the newer varieties – Jackpot, Roberta, Madison and Alexa – to gain experience of them.

"Another worth considering for a small look-see acreage is Zenecas Verity which does appear to be an improving variety. It has one of the highest growers incomes on the NIAB list and produces a lot of sugar from an average root yield. Its establishment is improving. Its one weakness is bolting which rules it out for early drillings." &#42