'Historic agreement' to bring more choice for sugar beet growers

A new agreement has been reached to extend sugar beet seed offering
A new agreement has been reached to extend sugar beet seed offering

A sugar beet breeder and the Seed Working Group consisting of both British Sugar and NFU Sugar have reached an agreement that extends the seed offering to growers.

The agreement means UK growers can now choose between seed that is processed and pelleted by breeder KWS or by Germains Seed Technology.

The agreement has been described as ‘historic’ as it now means that first-time growers have a choice in pelleting technologies.

KWS UK's Ben Bishop said: “Thousands of hectares of KWS own-brand seed have been purchased and grown by a limited number of farms over the past two seasons.

“We are pleased that this choice will now be extended to all growers for drilling in spring 2020.

“Crucially, growers will be able to express their preference for KWS’ seed technology on their seed order form,” he said.

Mr Bishop added that the choice will support the competitiveness of sugar beet production in the UK.

It will also bring benefits including full breeder accountability for the seed once it is on farm and the opportunity to purchase seed for re-drilling for any reason at 50% of the invoice price, he said.

“All KWS-processed seed will come with Early Plant Development (EPD), our processing and priming technology already enjoyed by farmers across continental Europe,” Mr Bishop added.

Several years of trials overseen by the British Beet Research Organisation (BRRO) have shown that the KWS pelleting process known as EPD2.0 and the first-generation process, EPD, perform strongly in the UK.

He said: “EPD2.0 gave a yield benefit of 1.5t/ha in the trials offering growers the choice of improved seed treatments on KWS seed.”

The agreement does not include the right for KWS to set prices for its products on farm as these will continue to be set by the Seed Working Group.