Video: Sugar beet drilling success with near-perfect weather


Sugar beet drilling is racing to an in depth within the present dry weather with larger beet costs and the supply of a key virus yellows seed therapy prompting extra optimism amongst beet growers and the processing trade.

Suffolk grower Will Hitchcock is extra upbeat on the crop’s prospects after good beet yields final season and as this spring’s crop is  going into usually good dry seed-beds with loads of moisture down beneath.

Watch the video of the Hitchcock Farm’s sugar beet drilling, hear from Will on the situations and from British Sugar on this 12 months’s drilling marketing campaign, and browse the complete report beneath.

See additionally: 3 elements growers can affect to maximise sugar beet yields

Will farms with his father Guy, mom Liz and sister Katherine simply south of Stowmarket, and nearly all the 600ha of beet that the household drills every year on their farm and on contract work was within the floor by the top of March.

“The beet price recovery is useful as every pound is welcome, but fuel prices are up and spray costs will be up a bit too,” he tells Farmers Weekly. The farm has two contracts which look to provide 16,000 tonnes of beet yearly.

© Katherine and Will Hitchcock © MAG/David Jones

Beet value rise

British Sugar has elevated its beet value for this season by 33% to £27/t for one-year offers and in addition by 27% for multi-year offers to the identical value of £27/t, whereas neonicotinoid insecticide seed remedies can be utilized this 12 months to guard in opposition to virus yellows infections.

The household enterprise Hitchcock Farms relies at Chapel Farm, within the village of Ringshall, protecting 800ha of largely heavy clay loams rising 200ha of sugar beet, up from 180ha final season, largely for rotation causes, with an additional 400ha drilled on contract.

Beet yields on the house farm averaged a powerful 96t/ha in 2021, starting from 75t/ha for early-lifted crops to 113t/ha on a mid-January 2022 harvested crop, and have been nicely above the virus yellows-hit crop in 2020, which averaged a yield of simply 75-80t/ha.

Drilling progress has been speedy this spring, helped by the dry weather. Virtually all of the 600ha of beet was sown within the final two weeks of March, utilizing two 6m-width Monosem precision seed drills working across the clock.

© MAG/David Jones

The farm favours this drill with its disc openers adopted by a typical tungsten coulter, as it may cope with a variety of soil varieties from mild sands in direction of the Suffolk coast to heavier soils on the house farm.

The 6m drills work on 50cm row widths, with seed positioned alongside the rows at 16cm gaps to goal for 100,000 crops/ha. The French-based precision drill maker was purchased by John Deere in 2015.

“The disc opener helps open the land up and works especially well on our heavier land,” says Mr Hitchcock.

Drilling situations

© MAG/David Jones

He describes seed-bed situations as usually good, however they’d have been higher with extra heavy winter frosts to offer extra weathering of their heavier soils.

Beet land is often ploughed, ready with a tine-roller mixture earlier than the winter after which a spring tine-roller mixture is used simply earlier than drilling.

The risk of aphid-borne virus yellows illness this season has triggered using neonicotinoid seed dressings if growers request them, as usually heat winter weather has inspired excessive aphid numbers.

Despite the inexperienced mild for the emergency momentary use of this seed therapy, Mr Hitchcock has solely drilled about 15% of the household farm’s beet space with the neonicotinoid Cruiser (thiamethoxam), as a consequence of rotational issues.

Neonicotinoid seed remedies have been banned in sugar beet in 2018 as a consequence of considerations that they could kill bees and different pollinations, and weren’t used within the springs of 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Heavy infestations of virus-carrying peach-potato aphids (myzus persicae) occurred in 2020, resulting in a pointy 25% fall in nationwide beet yields.

The most important four-year rotation on the farm is sugar beet-winter wheat-oilseed rape/winter bean-winter wheat, and if neonicotinoid seed remedies are used then no flowering crops may be grown within the subsequent 32 months after the beet is drilled.

This would preclude flowering crops resembling oilseed rape and beans.

This 32-month delay for all flowering crops was put in place to permit for the discount within the focus of thiamethoxam and its breakdown product clothianidin within the soil and in any subsequent flowering crops.

Neonic go-ahead 

British Sugar solely acquired the go-ahead on March 1 from a Rothamsted modelling survey for using neonicotinoids.

This confirmed that 69% of sugar beet can be contaminated with virus yellows within the absence of any therapy, manner forward of the set off level of 19% and near the 85% degree within the very unhealthy virus yellows 12 months of 2020.

Nick Morris, head of central agricultural at British Sugar, says that neonicotinoid seed remedies ought to give 10 weeks of safety.

This would take the crop as much as the 12-leaf stage in early June when crops turn into extra immune to aphids, though growers must be monitoring crops within the spring for aphid numbers.

He added that about 70% of sugar beet seed has been given a neonicotinoid therapy this season within the slim window between the Rothamsted survey launch and the conventional begin of drilling from mid-March onwards.

Growers will nonetheless have using two foliar sprays apart from neonicotinoid seed remedies to forestall virus yellows – that’s one software of Teppeki (flonicamid) and one in all InSyst (acetamiprid) – so solely two foliar sprays in whole for the season.

Growing prices for England’s 3,000-plus sugar beet growers are more likely to rise this season, with British Sugar saying a typical pesticide regime utilizing herbicides, fungicides and pesticides could have risen in value by about 7% this season.

This is with out considering the sharp rise in nitrogen fertiliser costs.

Mr Morris forecasts that the sugar beet space is about to be about the identical as that drilled in spring 2021, at about 91,000ha.

UK sugar beet harvests

Year         White sugar manufacturing    Average beet yield     Sugar beet space
2019        1.19m tonnes        80.65t/ha        100,000ha
2020     900,000 tonnes           59.15t/ha         103,000ha
2021       1.05m tonnes         about 80t/ha          91,000ha
2022         n/a              n/a       about 91,000ha


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