Simon RobertsSugar beet growers are being advised to prioritise crops for earliest lifting - avoiding the temptation to take the best grown fields first, in the hope that backward or patchy crops will catch up. After the late crop establishment in the spring, most growers have a significant range of crop growth between fields, or even within the field itself.
The natural inclination is to lift the best areas first to secure tonnage, reported Syngenta Sugar Beet Field Technical Manager, Simon Roberts. But a well-growing 40t/ha crop in October could be converted to a 70-80t/ha crop post-Christmas, if it is carefully managed, he advised. A backward crop lifted at 30 t/ha in October, however, would never be likely to exceed 45-50t/ha, even in a kind autumn season.
“Overall sugar beet output could be raised by keeping good crops going for longer and taking maximum advantage of autumn growth to increase root yield and improve the sugar content,” he said. “BBRO and Syngenta trials have consistently shown that maintaining the crops’ green leaf area for longer, with a two or three-spray programme of Spyrale and Priori Xtra, will drive up yields for later lifting.”
Over recent years the autumn weather conditions with brighter days and warmer temperatures have favoured late season bulking during October, November and into December. In 2012, sunlight radiation level was greater between September and November 2012, compared to June and July – at a time when green leaf area was greater and better able to utilise the energy.
BBRO advice during this year’s beet growers’ open days has been that all crops should receive at least one fungicide application, with two treatments for mid-season lifting - and significant advantages from a third application on crops destined for post-Christmas harvest. Its trials have shown a direct correlation between the number of fungicide applications and an increased sugar content of roots.
Furthermore, where later Spyrale applications have retained the green leaf more effectively, beet roots are better protected from frost damage and are easier to lift through the winter, enabling delivery direct to factories without the fear of storage losses.
For crops that received a first fungicide application in July, Mr Roberts advocated a second application of Spyrale or Priori Xtra in September on beet destined for harvest from October onwards. The option of switching between the broad-spectrum fungicides will enable a complete three-spray programme on later lifted beet, he added.
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