Rhizomania-resistant beet makes it to the top of variety lists

A rhizomania-resistant sugar beet variety heads up the new NIAB/ BBRO Recommended List for 2009, it has been announced.

The adjusted yield for Carissima is almost 2% higher than the existing varieties Trinita, Alota and Opta. It is only the second time a rhizo-resistant variety has out-yielded traditional types on the list, as resistance has generally carried a slight yield penalty, NIAB’s Simon Kerr says. “Mars back in 2005 was the first rhizo-resistant variety to top the list.”

In all, the 2009 list features seven new varieties (see table below), taking the total available for next season to 23 (compared with 21 in 2008).

“Yield potential is probably still the number one factor for growers to consider, so Carissima does look good and it has rhizomania resistance. But it has got quite a high early-sown bolter score [2.9], so there is a slight risk there,” Mr Kerr says.

Volker Utesch from KWS says rhizomania resistance is likely to become standard for the firm’s varieties over the next 3-5 years. “If you’re growing in Norfolk or Suffolk, variety resistance to rhizomania is essential. Further west and towards the Humber, you can still grow traditional varieties, but the disease is becoming more widespread.”

Two other KWS varieties – Mandella and Sophia – are next highest yielding, while Levi from Elsoms, which also has rhizo-resistance, could be a good choice for earlier sowing due to its low bolting score. Bolting differences between all varieties on the list are relatively small, Mr Kerr adds, but Tempest, Palace, Trinita and Opta have been lower than most in trials. “The best rhizomania resistant varieties for lower bolter levels are Levi, Goya and Bobcat.”

He advises growers not to be too concerned by low rust and mildew scores. “There are some big differences among the varieties, but generally these can be controlled with fungicides. Also, more people are willing to use two sprays now, especially if they’re later lifting.”

Dropped from the list are Harry, Kingston, Mars, Buxom, Miriam and Zanzibar.

New beet varieties at a glance

Variety & Breeder Adjusted tonnes (% of control) Sugar content (%) Bolters per 100 plants (early sowing) Rust Powdery mildew
Carissima (Rh)
105.7 18.3 2.9 5 2
104.1 17.5 0.7 7 7
Sophia (Rh)
103.6 18.0 1.8 6 7
103.0 18.5 0.6 7 3
Syngenta Seeds
102.8 17.8 0.2 7 2
102.5 18.1 0.4 7 3
Levi (Rh)
Elsoms Seeds
102.2 17.7 0.9 5 3

More detailed information about all varieties on the 2009 Recommended List will appear in the spring edition of British Sugar’s beet review magazine.