Wednesday 3 March 

A forecast from the Rothamstead Research Group says virus yellows in the sugarbeet crop will be very low this year and neonic seed treatment will NOT be used with first flights of aphids likely to be six weeks later than last year. 

The BBKA is pleased to hear this but will campaign against use of the neonics in years 2022 and 2023 which is allowed under the licence granted by Defra. 

The British Beet Research Organisation (BBRO) says the weather was the reason.  "With February temperatures fluctuating from very cold to unseasonably warm conditions, especially during the last three weeks of the month, this has meant the independent virus yellows forecast has been uncertain with regards to the 9% trigger threshold for the use of Cruiser SB on seed. The 1st of March forecast predicts that 8.37 % of the national sugar beet area will be affected by virus yellows by the end of August 2021." 

This graph from Rothamsted Research shows the historical incidence of virus yellows in sugar beet: 

BBRO document

BBRO says: " Clearly, the cold weather has had a significant impact on overwintering aphid populations, both reducing their numbers as well as the date of their migration into the 2021 crop. This is a very similar national forecast to that in 2018. Aphids were first recorded in crops in late May 2018. This is very welcome news for crops in 2021. Once seed is on farm, drilling into good seed beds, as soon as possible, will ensure crops establish quickly. Consequently, plants will be more mature, resilient, and resistant to the impact of virus when aphids finally arrive."