20 October 1995

Rhizo spreads to 11 new farms in East Anglia area

RHIZOMANIA has hit 11 new farms, confirming its endemic status in affected parts of East Anglia.

It now seems the current "containment" policy is unlikely to keep other areas free for long, admits a leading beet scientist.

But MAFFs modified policy is not being blamed – it is seen as a vital way of easing problems for those hit by "root madness" disease.

"Its clearly now endemic and gradually showing up more in areas with previous outbreaks," says Brooms Barn pathologist Mike Asher. Most of the 52 cases confirmed in the UK are on light land in East Anglia.

"Personally I dont think well be able to maintain a containment policy for much longer. Rotations in Shropshire, for example, tend to be slightly longer. But they have the same soil types and use irrigation. All the ingredients are there."

This years outbreaks are not being blamed on irrigation. "Our feeling is that a lot of the infection took place early, because there was plenty of moisture and it was warm enough. Later watering helps spread it, but I believe irrigation wont have made much difference to the number of outbreaks."

If other areas are affected the implications could be severe, he claims.

Some roots from affected fields canbe processed, but only at factories discharging washings to tidal waters – Cantley and Ipswich.

The picture up to 1994. All this years outbreaks are within the four main areas.