Good bolting characteristics for flexible drilling, beet cyst nematode (BCN) tolerance and a jump in yield are among the traits found in the seven new varieties added to the 2021 sugar beet Recommended List (RL), produced by the British Beet Research Organisation and the British Society of Plant Breeders.
As the star performer in terms of yield, BTS1915 from Limagrain is now the highest yielding variety on the list, at 108 per cent of controls.
Mike May, chairman of the RL board says: “To have another variety coming in with a yield lift is exciting. BTS1915 is yielding way above the rest. However, it does have a high number of bolters especially when it’s sown early. We’re not recommending it for early sowing, so from the middle of March onwards.
“Interestingly, it had no bolting in the trials we carried out at normal sowing but that might indicate that in a cold season it is at bigger risk of bolting. Based on limited data it also appears to have some rust tolerance in the sense that there was a lower level of infection compared to other varieties.”
With this year being the first season that growers can use Conviso Smart technology, the variety Smart Rivetta by KWS is the second ALS tolerant variety to make it onto the list.
Mr May says: “With the rapid reduction in available herbicides, these varieties could well be very important in the future.
“While Smart Rivetta is lower yielding [92 per cent], all the RL trials can’t be treated with relevant herbicides. These were treated with conventional herbicides and we know they will reduce yields to an extent. When used with Smart Conviso herbicides it is likely to yield higher.”
As the area of land infested with BCN appears to be increasing, the addition of Lacewing from SESVanderHave means there are currently three BCN tolerant varieties on the RL.
“Lacewing is a welcomed addition, and it has a reasonably high sugar content [18 per cent] as well,” says Mr May.
The new varieties Evalotta, Catriona, Eldorana and Sancha, all by KWS produced no bolters in three years of normal sown RL trials. However, Evalotta is not recommended for early drilling says Mr May.
“It is a high yielding variety at 103 per cent, 3 per cent above controls. It had higher rust infection than BTS1915, but the yields in the untreated trials weren’t affected by rust relative to the other varieties which indicates there could be some tolerance there.”
Catriona has good bolting characteristics, offering growers more flexibility on sowing dates, Mr May adds. Similar in bolting is Eldorana, which has a slightly higher sugar content of 18 per cent. Sancha is low bolting and is standard in terms of disease tolerance.
Mr May adds: “The 2021 list shows how successful breeders have been with 10 out of the 22 varieties on the list recording no bolters in the 20 RL yield trials, which were sown from mid-March onwards, and make up the database used for the 2021 RL. That’s a big bonus.
“Breeders are putting a lot of effort into rapidly developing varieties that are tolerant to virus, disease and reductions in fungicides. We’re still getting varieties through that are needed for normal use and starting to see varieties coming through for special use.”