28 February 1997

Rhizo resistance features in new sugar beet list

By Andrew Blake

RHIZOMANIA-resistance is boasted by one of the five sugar beet varieties joining the new NIAB Sugar Beet Recommended List.

Ballerina, from English Sugar Beet Seed, is the first of its type to be provisionally listed for special use in 1998, ahead of a possible relaxation in the current containment policy for the disease.

On uninfected sites it yields about 5% less than the best of current non-resisters, says NIABs Simon Kerr. But should the rules be eased it could be particularly valuable to growers on infected farms, he believes.

"It has a good yield, but more importantly it minimises the build-up of the virus in the soil."

The UKs rhizomania-free status, retained not least under pressure from the Scottish seed potato industry, is not due for review until 1999. But much depends on the extent of rhizo outbreaks this season, he believes.

"In 1996 there were 25 new outbreaks and 13 on previously affected farms. If we got 150 this summer there would need to be a policy review."

The four other provisionally listed varieties, Camilla and Nicola from ESBS, Madrid from Danisco and Oberon from Hilleshog, all have above average sugar content and growers incomes.

Madison remains the highest outright sugar yielder. "But these are all getting close – within 1%," says Mr Kerr. Nicolas large top could help growers using belt-type lifters, he adds.


Sugar beet list changes for 1998

Newcomers: Ballerina, Camilla, Madrid, Nicola, Oberon.

Dropped: Druid, Fiona, Giselle, Rose, Torc.

Moved to Special Use category: Celt.