Current: Variety interaction with Virus Yellows

Timescale: 2018 -2021
Project Lead: Prof Mark Stevens & Dr Alistair Wright
Project Sponsor: BBRO

Project Summary

This project will provide information to determine whether any current/future RL varieties respond differently to virus yellows infection (BMYV and BYV) and hence lose less relative yield, if such varieties cannot be protected by neonicotinoid seed treatments in the future. These additional data will also help to improve the virus yellows-variety element of the current BeetGro yield model as currently these are based on average yield responses and are not variety specific.

Main Objectives

there are currently no approved alternatives available for VY as previously effective products have been withdrawn due to aphid resistance.   However, appropriate alternatives are being investigated by BBRO and it is hoped (but not guaranteed) that the foliar insecticide from Belchim (Teppeki, active ingredient flonicamid) may gain recommendation for use in sugar beet during 2018.  Unfortunately, potential future routes for control that rely on foliar application will add significant expense to the cost of disease management; crops will need to be closely monitored to ensure timely application; there will be additional application costs and there is the probability that greater amounts of active substance will be applied to the crop (compared with a seed treatment).


It is hoped that VY resistant varieties will be available for evaluation from circa 2023 and is the focus or renewed collaboration between breeders and the BBRO (e.g. directly or via the current InnovateUK project).  However, nothing is known about the susceptibility to virus yellows of current varieties and whether there are differential responses to virus infection.  If neonicotinoid seed treatments are withdrawn during 2018 understanding any differential responses between current varieties will be crucial information for growers and it will also provide up to date information on the current impact of BMYV and BYV on yield too.


To date, BBRO has not evaluated current varieties for their potential differential yield response to virus infection. Within the current BBRO/BSPB recommended list (RL) yield trial programme there are no tests conducted for virus yellows and there is a reluctance from some breeders to re-start this work as part of the RL programme.  However, it will be important to have a greater understanding of the response of varieties to virus yellows to be able to highlight the most appropriate variety types for specific on farm requirements, particularly in the short term, whilst new/alternative solutions are identified.

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Outcomes / Key Message For Growers And Industry

Under review
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We are set up jointly by British Sugar plc and the National Farmers' Union.

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