Variety choice depends on all characteristics
Sugar beet is a crop few
growers seem prepared
to drop despite shrinking
margins. This special
focus highlighting seed
several other topics to
help keep rewards as
high as possible. Edited
by Andrew Blake
BREEDERS naturally extol the virtues of their particular offerings. But in deciding which varieties to grow producers need to consider all characteristics, advises NIABs head of sugar beet Simon Kerr. Analysis of the 2001 Recommended List highlights the potential weaknesses of individual varieties as well as their benefits.
Growers income (see table) is the main decider for many, says Mr Kerr. "But picking the most appropriate varieties means considering a whole range of features."
For relative out-and-out root output Roberta tops the list on 103.1, with Stallion on 96.5 yielding least of the general (G) and provisional (PG) recommendations.
Roberta tops the list for sugar yield at 102.2, Swift on 98.5 offers the least of the G and PG groups.
Sweetest listed variety is Stallion with a sugar content of 18.58% compared with the mean of 17.82% for the generally recommended quartet of Alexa, Jackpot, Roberta and Triumph. Roberta is least sweet of all listings.
In terms of impurities breeders appear to be making good progress with all the provisional recommendations bettering the 3.72 average of the G quartet. Purist of all is Wildcat on 3.05. Worst in this respect is Triumph on 3.78.
Amino-N levels, included for the first time on the lists to reflect the new IPA payments system, range from Jessica on 79mg/100g of sugar to Celt on 125, although of the G & PG varieties Triumph scores worst at 116.
Celt, Swift and Rebecca offer best establishment, all three rated 84 against the G mean of 79. Ariana on 75 is lowest for this feature.
Aside from Celt, listed specifically for early sowing and rated 2, best performers in this respect assessed by bolter levels, is Duke on 7. Jackpot (17) and Alexa and Swift (both 16) are least suitable of the G and PG types for early drilling.
At normal sowing time Celt and Jessica can be expected to throw fewest bolters and Wildcat most.
Top size differs only marginally between most varieties, Duke having the smallest tops and Clarissa and Rosana the biggest.
Duke has the lowest crown height, Ariana the tallest.
Rust and powdery mildew are key beet diseases assessed by NIAB. Triumph, Celt and Ariana are the most rust-resistant and Duke the most susceptible. But Duke and newcomer Jessica are most resistant to powdery mildew. *
Roberta (G) 102.1
Wildcat (PG) 101.7
Baron (PG – new) 101.6
Jessica (PG – new) 101.2
Stallion (PG) 101.1
Ariana (PG) 101.0
Chorus (PG) 100.2
Anthem (PG) 100.1
Duke (PG) 100.1
Clarissa (PG) 100.0
Triumph (G) 99.4
Jackpot (G) 99.1
Swift (PG) 98.7
Celt (S) 97.3
Rebecca (PS) 95.7
Rosana (PS) 95.5
Source: NIAB * relative to controls
For independent advice on which varieties to drill, the RL should be the first port of call, says NIABs Simon Kerr (inset).