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Beet newcomers bring yield and bolting resistance

Sugar beet growers have seven new varieties to consider for planting 2020, including the first ALS herbicide-tolerant variety to be added to the Recommended List.


The new varieties added to the Recommended List for 2020 are Advena KWS and Smart Janninka KWS from KWS UK, BTS 4100 from Limagrain UK, and Vixen, Conger, Puffin and Lightning from SESVanderHave UK.


According to the BBRO, these varieties reflect continued improvement in yield and other key characteristics, such as early-sown bolting, in varieties being put forward by breeders.


Mike May, chairman of the Recommended List board says: “2018 was a difficult growing season for the commercial crop and trials alike. Adverse weather delayed drilling and this was followed by a prolonged drought and a late burst of nitrogen when the drought finally broke in autumn.


“Despite this, the control varieties in the trials still managed to achieve a mean yield of 112 adjusted tonnes per hectare, with new varieties offering up to a 4% yield increase above that, highlighting the resilience of the crop in such conditions.


“It is also good to see the first ALS herbicide-tolerant variety on the list. The herbicides for use with this variety have now been approved and should be available for the 2020 sowings.”


Breeders have put considerable effort into producing low bolting varieties specifically for UK conditions and six of the new varieties did not bolt in any of the RL normal sown trials (after March 15) in any of the three years of testing (2016-2018 inclusive), adds Mr May. These varieties were Advena KWS, BTS4100, Vixen, Conger, Puffin and Smart Janninka KWS, although the latter did when sown early and is not recommended for sowing before March 15.



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What the breeders say


The four SESVanderHave varieties added to the RL – Lightning, Conger, Puffin and Vixen – all offer advances in yield over existing varieties from the company, says the firm’s general manager Ian Munnery.


In addition, some have very low bolter counts from early sown bolter trials and exceptional low bolter counts from normal sowing. Lightning will suit growers looking for a variety to sow at normal time, from March 15; Vixen has one of the lowest bolter counts on the new list from early sowing and zero bolting when sown after March 15.


Conger and Puffin also have very low bolters from early sowing and none when drilled after March 15.


Advent KWS from KWS is another high yielding variety with low bolting performance.


Ben Bishop, KWS sugar beet UK country manager, says: “Advena KWS has a yield of 104% of controls, putting it in the top four varieties on the 2019 RL while its exceptionally low number of bolters, the lowest of all top five varieties, makes it suitable for drilling in early and normal sowing windows.”

Also from KWS is the first sugar beet variety tolerant to ALS herbicides to be added to the RL, Smart Jannika KWS.


“Smart Janninka KWS is the first of a new generation of varieties to feature tolerance to ALS herbicides for use in the Conviso Smart weed control system for sugar beet,” says Mr Bishop.


When to sow this variety will be a decision best taken by growers in consultation with their advisers, but where it is considered suitable, growers can be confident yields will be close to that of some established varieties, he adds.


“This should give those wishing to sow sugar beet where the weed burden would previously exclude it from that land the confidence to sow without suffering a significant yield penalty,” he adds.


Limagrain variety BTS 4100 joins the 2020 RL with the highest sugar content of any sugar beet variety on the list at 18.4%, while also offering high yields and low bolting counts from early sowing.


Ron Granger, sugar beet product manager at Limagrain, says: “In 2016, BTS 4100 yielded 18% while the average sugar percentage across the RL trials was 17.7%. In 2017, when the national average was 18.4%, BTS 4100 yielded 0.6% more at 19%. In 2018, the national average was 17.8% and BTS 4100 again yielded 0.6% more, at 18.4.


“Growers will recognise that, on certain soil types or in difficult field conditions, a high sugar content can be hard to achieve. In these situations a variety, such as BTS 4100 with a genetically high sugar content, offers the best insurance for maximising full yield potential, as expressed in adjusted tonnes.


“For those looking to drill in the first half of March, in an attempt to get crops up and away to combat virus yellows infection, BTS 4100 fits this drilling slot very well. It has excellent bolting tolerance and is one of only a few varieties on the RL which offers no bolters when drilled in the normal sowing slot.


“This is combined with good emergence characteristics and a good tolerance to rust. It is also rhizomania tolerant.”


More information

The RL/DL table can be found on the BBRO website ( along with the supplementary tables showing the three-year data for the varieties, plus seed provenance, vernalisation experienced in the early-sown bolter trials over the last three years and juice impurities.

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