Sugar beet: Choosing spray strategies

13 March 1998

Sugar beet: Choosing spray strategies

THINK carefully about how frequently you or your agronomist will walk beet crops when planning this years herbicide programme.

Growers planning post-emergence only programmes must commit to high management input, and accept that if weather prevents applications, they are running a higher risk strategy, says Mike May of IACR Brooms Barn.

"Every field needs walking at least weekly for such a strategy to work." If that is likely to be impractical pre-emergence products can help, he says.

"Growers should consider the pre-emergence spray as a management tool, providing more flexibility with post-emergence product choice and timing. In turn this should reduce costs."

Independent Sugar Beet Research and Education Fund trials show 30-50% better weed control from a first post-em spray if a pre-em application is made. "In most cases the lowest pre-emergence label dose for a particular soil type has proved most cost-effective," Mr May advises.

Furthermore, dry conditions should not prompt the omission of a pre-emergence treatment, he adds.

Little weed control maybe seen at the time, but residual benefits will be there later in the season when moisture arrives.

BASFs Andrej Brejc reckons the balance has swung too far away from residuals. "This has led to higher costs. Over the last two years 20% more has been spent on weed control in beet despite lower herbicide product prices. At BASF we want to put the cost control back into weed control."

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