NFU Sugar dismay at non-Recommended List beet seed offer

NFU Sugar is demanding more data about the beet variety Jackdaw as news emerges that it is being supplied by British Sugar to some growers while not being on the 2024 Recommended List.

Normally, British Sugar seed only consists of varieties that have been approved by the British Beet Research Organisation, whose crop committee meets each December to consider new varieties for Recommended List status.

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However, NFU Sugar says this year some growers are being supplied with the non-recommended variety Jackdaw.

It says this is because British Sugar sold out of the available stock of other beet cyst nematode (BCN) tolerant varieties on the Recommended List, leaving some growers at risk.

“Had British Sugar managed the contracting and seed sale process differently, this situation could have been mitigated or potentially avoided,” said a statement.

NFU Sugar is also critical that information provided to growers about Jackdaw’s agronomic performance has been produced by the breeder, is not independent and contains no information on disease infection scores.

Supply difficulties

British Sugar’s head of agriculture, Nick Morris, blamed the seed supply difficulties on major flooding in Italy last year, which had had a significant impact on available global seed volumes for 2024.

“Despite securing all available BCN-tolerant seed on the Recommended List, grower demand has significantly exceeded available volumes,” he said.

“Over 60 growers were not able to access BCN smart seed, meaning they would either not grow or face significant yield impact.

“British Sugar was pleased to offer them Jackdaw as a solution and this has been taken up.”

Mr Morris explained there were restrictions on data sharing, but following agreement from all stakeholders, British Sugar had provided growers with as much available information as possible.

“We are aiming to provide further data where possible. We encourage growers to contact us if they have any concerns,” he added.

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