12 January 1996

Sugar beet frost damage variable – BS

FROST-DAMAGED sugar beet has been easy to find in fields after the recent cold snap. Much has needed lifting and fast delivery, meaning clamped beet will now need storing longer.

British Sugar staff have identified worst affected fields, so growers can lift and deliver without delay. "Damage has been variable," says agricultural director Chris Carter. "But beet is regenerating very well, even where air temperatures fell to -11C."

Over 340,000t of beet was lifted and delivered between Christmas and the start of this week. Much was frozen and could be processed. But some revision of delivery schedules has been needed.

Some clamps were frosted 0.5m (1.6ft) down. "We have encouraged growers to deliver frozen beet to minimise problems."

Joe Ward has 12ha (30 acres) of unharvested beet at Greetwell Hall near Lincoln. But 2.4ha (6 acres) lifted last week looked "remarkably well", he says. "We topped quite heavily to remove frosted tops and delivered it immediately." At farmers weeklys Easton Lodge, near Wittering, John Lambkin delivered the last beet lifted on Jan 2. He must now store some earlier lifted beet for another six weeks. Sprouting is causing some sugar loss concern. &#42

&#8226 Inspect each field for damage.

&#8226 Lift if fit and deliver quickly.

&#8226 Flail or scalp damaged crowns.

&#8226 Monitor clamps – keep cool.

&#8226 Discard deteriorated roots.

Keep the clamp cool but protect from frost to keep roots sound, says BS.