“A preventative Spyrale treatment last month has proved highly effective in keeping disease out. However, a second application would now be required to bolster protection over the coming weeks,” he advised.

Mr Roberts advocated Spyrale would be the first choice where crops are currently clean, with the option for Priori Xtra if there was already some disease present – to include the benefit of both triazole curativity and strobilurin chemistry.

“With the recent wet weather we would have expected Rust to be the predominant threat to sugar beet, but we have also seen Powdery Mildew outbreaks in the eastern counties, even in otherwise clean crops,” he warned. “Clearly growers and agronomist need to look at a broad-spectrum fungicide strategy.”

Mr Roberts highlighted the increase in crops destined to be left in the field for ‘just-in-time’ lifting before direct delivery to factories reinforced the need to protect green leaf for as long as possible – enabling a cleaner lift by harvesters and providing essential frost protection of root crowns.

Lincolnshire sugar beet grower and contractor, Richard Ivatt, has seen the benefit of improved green leaf retention from a Spyrale-based fungicide programme.

“British Sugar is urging us to micro-top so as not to cut into the crown, but they don’t want any leaf material going into the factory.
“That is virtually impossible if you have dead rubbery leaves on the plant that wrap around the scalper knife,” according to Mr Ivatt. “With a healthy upright green leaf we can achieve higher yields of a much more consistent, cleaner top and improved root quality.” He says it is abundantly clear to the harvester operator which crops have had a two or three spray fungicide treatment.

“With beet in the ground for longer, better green leaf retention has allowed it continue putting on yield right through the autumn and winter,” he added.