Sugar beet planting saw somewhat of an East/West divide as heavy rain early in the w/c April 30 fell in Norfolk and Suffolk.
British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) knowledge exchange and crop progression lead, Dr Simon Bowen says to the west of these counties, on lighter land, planting was going ahead. “There is better progress further west. The East has been more tentative and some silts near Boston are taking time to dry.”
He estimated 70 per cent of sugar beet had been drilled by May 3. With so much left to drill in the first week of May it was getting somewhat late, says Dr Bowen. “But there is moisture and heat in the ground so crops that are in are emerging quickly and have a chance of catching up.
“Last year planting time was normal but we had a cold, dry April and crops were slow to emerge.”
For those still to plant sugar beet, he advises not rushing in for the sake of a few days. “If you drill into a poor seedbed the crop will suffer more than if you drill into a better seedbed a few days later.”
Pam Chambers, UPL technical manager says drilled beet is emerging quickly and care is needed with herbicide applications. “With the high light intensity and soft growth sugar beet can be tender. Growers should watch the tank mixes that they are applying. Some can be hotter than others. With a Broad-acre programme, containing lots of actives, make sure you have support from the manufacturer of an approved tank mix or advice from an agronomist.”
It is crucial sugar beet is at the first true leaf 1cm growth stage before applying herbicides, she says. “Also, manganese deficiency can make the beet quite sensitive.”
Where crops are suffering due to cold and wet weather conditions, nutrient stress, or are only just emerging, do not use a mineral oil adjuvant, advises Ms Chambers. “Mineral oils are much harsher on the crop as well as the weeds. Vegetable oils tend to be kinder.
“Be very wary of including adjuvants if the weather suddenly changes to hot, cloudless skies and high relative humidity. This is especially important if using a Broad-acre programme. In this situation delay spraying until evening/early morning, use a vegetable oil and use a lower rate of adjuvant. Warm weather following wet conditions can result in rapid growth of crop and weeds with both being tender.”