Recommended List 2021

The purpose of the Recommended List (RL) trials is to test the genetic potential of new candidate varieties and to recommend the best for use in the UK. The RL project is run and funded under a joint collaboration between BBRO and sugar beet breeder members of the BSPB (British Society of Plant Breeders).

Recommended List 2021 

'Where a variety has lower yield than the control varieties on the list it may still be listed for a specific use.  In the 2021 RL there were three such varieties, one for use where the aggressive APYR strain of rhizomania occurs and the other two are herbicide tolerant varieties. 

Three of the 13 trials drilled each year are also used for National List (NL) purposes.  It is a legal requirement that a variety is added to the NL before it can be sold and the trials are used to determine whether a new variety has value for cultivation and use (VCU) and is distinct, uniform and stable (DUS).

The RL now carries out some trials that are not treated with foliar fungicides and the data (including yields) from of these 'untreated trials' can be found under the Disease section below.  Please note that these results are from a limited number of trials (2 each in 2018 and 2019).

Dates of release of data and years when trials carried out can be confusing – the table below gives examples of data collection for the 2017 to 2021 RL tables (these are the tables from which growers select varieties for that season’s sowing).  Click on the RL List below to see the relevant data table. In addition, the RL now carries out trials to determine the yield of varieties that have not been treated with foliar fungicides (see under Disease section below) for 2020 (limited data) and 2021 RLs. 


Revised recommended list

The following tables are those for the 2021 Recommended List but updated with the 2020 results (the three years of data used in these are 2018, 2019 and 2020).  This data has been released early to provide growers with the latest information before they sow their 2021 crop. The 2022 RL table with the new varieties for commercial sowing in 2022 will be available for release in April.

2021 RL Table

2021 Supplementary data to RL table

2021 Total impurities

2021 ESB table

2021 Provenance





YEARS OF DATA                 

LAUNCH DATE                     COMMERCIAL SOWING     

2021 RL List

Revised with Adjusted Tonnes  

2017, 2018, 2019 1st August 2020 2021

Official 2021 RL List

(Previous calculations)

2017, 2018, 2019 20th March 2020 2021

2020 RL List

2016, 2017,2018 2nd May 2019 2020
Supplementary Data 2021  Supplementary Data 2020 Supplementary Data 2019 Supplementary Data 2018
2021 RL with 3-years data 2020 RL with 3-years data 2019 RL with 3-years data  2018 RL with 3-years data 
2021 RL untreated  N/A  N/A  N/A
2021 Vernalisation data 2020 Vernalisation data 2019 Vernalisation data  2018 Vernalisation data
2021 RL Impurities data 2020 RL Impurities data 2019 RL Impurities data 2018 RL Impurities data
2021 Provenance 2020 Provenance 2019 Provenance 2018 Provenance

 * For 2021 seed ordering growers should use this table, which gives variety ranking based on the new calculation of adjusted tonnes.  This change in calculation results in some small differences in ranking of varieties.  In general, most varieties ‘adversely’ affected do not have quite the same premium from high sugar concentrations as previously.  The new adjusted tonne is basically the same as sugar yield but in this table rounding of data has caused some small differences in a few cases.


Please click below for an insight into the 2021 RL from Dr Simon Bowen, BBRO Head of Knowledge Exchange.


Definitions of susceptibility to pathogens 

Susceptible – A variety that becomes infected by a pathogen and shows full symptoms of the disease; significant yield penalties may result.

Tolerant – A variety that is infected by a pathogen to the same extent as a susceptible variety, but expresses little or no symptoms. 

Partially-resistant – A variety that is infected by a pathogen, but the pathogen is inhibited in its movement or multiplication.

Complete resistance (immunity) – A variety that is not affected by the pathogen at all.

Multiple resistance – Inclusion of more than one resistance genes to protect against different pests and/or diseases.



The data provided on these pages are the intellectual property of the BBRO/BSPB. BBRO/BSPB seeks to ensure that the data provided are accurate. However, subject to the operation of law no liability is accepted for loss, damage or injury howsoever caused or suffered directly or indirectly in relation to information and options contained in or omitted from these pages.

These data are provided for the purpose of determining the choice of sugar beet varieties for planting and for no other purpose without the written agreement of BBRO. The information must not be published without the express written agreement of BBRO except for printing copies for personal use. ©2020 BBRO


The last three year’s data are used when forming the RL list and these are shown in the three-year datasets in the supplementary table. In most cases there are relatively small differences in yield performance between years but as consistency of performance is an important factor when selecting varieties, these datasets allow the user to look at variation of performance of each listed variety over the three years.


The 2021 tables include the adjusted yield calculated by the previous and revised formulae.  Differences between the previous and new adjusted tonnes calculations are small. 

There is no evidence from these trials to indicate that any recommended varieties show any response to later lifting or greater frost tolerance.  Records of  top size and habit are being recorded with a view to making these available but in the 2018 growing season differences were relatively small (probably as result of the season’s weather). Crown height is not recorded as differences between current varieties are minimal.

Provisionally Recommended varieties (PR) are tested for a minimum of three years before being added to the list in PR1. They are tested for a minimum of three further years before potential promotion to the fully Recommended (R) group. All varieties are issued with an automatic 1-year warning of removal from the list if their adjusted root yield values are below 100% of the controls. Varieties may be recommended for Specific Use (S) if they have specific attributes but are inferior to recommended varieties in other important characters (generally yield) and they justify limited use.  

Candidate varieties are usually tested using 1 to 2kg samples of seed supplied by breeders. Once a variety has been provisionally recommended for commercial use, its seed is drawn from the commercial bulks as supplied to Germains. The bold figures in the supplementary table indicate varieties that have been tested with commercial seed; usually 500 units or more. PR1 varieties have been tested using only breeders’ seed provided as 1 to 2kg samples. PR2 have been tested with commercial seed in the most recent test year but with breeder’s seed in the previous two. Similarly, PR3 have been tested with commercial seed in the most recent two seasons whilst only data for R varieties have come from trials using commercial seed in all three years. Where seed lots smaller than 500 units are supplied, these are classified as breeders’ seed. The data where all three years and the mean are in bold are most representative of the commercial situation.

The 2021 RL yield data are presented as a three-year mean of 20 trials 7 in 2017, 8 in 2018) and 5 in 2019 (in 2019 the very wet autumn meant that some sites were too wet to harvest). ( ) around data on the 2019 and subsequent tables (or [ ] around earlier data) indicates it is not a full data set with at least one year missing.  “-“ indicates no data.  The data for the 2019 and subsequent individual years are available in the supplementary tables.

If selecting a range of varieties it may be beneficial to make selections of material from different genetic backgrounds and the listing of Breeders and their UK agents is intended as an aid for this selection.



Prior to 2018 disease ratings for rust and powdery mildew were taken from separate trials that were not treated with fungicide.  In 2018 owing to poor infection the powdery mildew was discontinued but one rust trial was continued. This type of trial is not taken to yield but two additional trials were set up that are designed to be taken to yield and to record all diseases. At the moment the results of these two trials are not used for the main RL table, that continues to use the infection in the main RL trials and the special rust trial.

In the 2020 RL table, only rust data was available; there being only one year’s data for powdery mildew and other diseases. The current foliar disease data do not indicate tolerance or resistance, but simply leaf infection. The data in the RL table are ratings whilst those in the supplementary table are recorded percentage leaf infection.

Data from the untreated yield and disease trials (no foliar fungicide treatment applied)

The table shows data from the four replicated trials (2 each in 2018 and 2019) trials that were untreated with foliar fungicides. These show the varietal performance under the natural cocktail of diseases. Rust and powdery mildew were the main diseases but others were present at low levels in some plots. These results should be treated with reserve as they are from only two years of trials.






Growers can use the establishment figures when calculating the seed rate required to produce their target plant population. In practice, the differences recorded between current varieties in trials are relatively small and those less than 3.7% are not statistically significant in the 2021 RL. In addition, growers need to consider that 'establishment' will vary between years (typically in the range 84 to 90%. 

Establishment figures in the tables are presented as % of controls. Since the 2013 trial season seed has been sown at 6-9 cm seed spacing and thinned to produce an average population, for yield determination, of just over 100,000 plants per hectare. Pre-thinning plant counts are used to determine the establishment figures. Whilst this is not a true record of establishment (as number of seeds sown is not counted and the plant counts are carried out at the 2-4 leaf stage) it does indicate the small differences that can exist between recommended varieties and seed lots.



Sugar beet is a biennial plant that will only become reproductive (i.e. produce a flower, or as it is usually referred to in beet “a bolter”) once it has been exposed to low, vernalising temperatures (for bolting) and long days (for seed production).  Temperatures between 3 and 12°C are the critical temperatures for vernalisation, with temperatures in the mid range having greatest effect and those towards 12°C the least. As a rule-of-thumb around 40 days of vernalisation (where temperatures during the 24 hours are within this range) are required for beet to bolt. Vernalisation can start before the beet emerge, therefore depth of drilling can have an effect on bolting.  Other factors such as field location (north or south region of the beet growing area, by the sea or inland, sheltered by woods or buildings, sloping topography and orientation of field) can also affect the temperatures experienced by beet, and hence vernalisation.  In some instances high temperatures immediately after a cool vernalising day can neutralise this (devernalisation).

Early sown bolting (ESB) trials are sown separately to the main RL trials and are drilled sequentially from the last week of February to the 5th March (9th March in 2018). The ESB figures are the number of bolters recorded from these earlier sowings for the last three years and should be used as a guide to compare varieties by growers sowing early and / or where high vernalisation (periods of cold) is expected.

ESB figures can be generally classified as the genetic's tendency to bolt under bolting pressure. Later, Normal Sown Bolting (NSB) is often classified as production bolters or contaminants where another source of pollen has pollinated the female plant.  Plant breeders take care to minimise this in their seed production by ensuring good isolation distances and closely aligned flowering and pollination timing but, inevitably, there may be some year-to-year differences in bolting within a variety.

ESB and NSB figures are quoted as number per hectare based on beet populations of 100,000/ha.  



Since 2007, some AYPR rhizomania strains have been identified at a few sites which continue to be monitored and breeders have developed varieties with enhanced resistance genes to the AYPR strains found at these sites. Yields of the AYPR varieties are determined in the normal RL trials, which are carried out in non-infested situations.  Glasshouse studies, using soil collected from AYPR-infected sites, are used to determine their effectiveness at reducing the build-up of this.  Roots of these varieties are tested for the presence of the virus using established diagnostic methods. AYPR approved varieties should be used where this strain is present – but consult BBRO/your BS Contract Manager/seed breeder for advice on managing this strain of rhizomania.


Beet cyst nematode (BCN) tolerant varieties are listed for use under BCN infested conditions but have yields suitable for use in non-infested fields. However, before selecting a BCN tolerant variety for non-affected situations it is suggested growers discuss this with BBRO and/or their British Sugar Area Manager. BCN tolerance does not apply to free-living nematodes such as those causing Docking Disorder. The BCN tolerance breeding technology has been demonstrated, in independent testing in the UK and mainland Europe, to give yield benefits under BCN infested conditions. The RL List is not indicative of the performance of BCN varieties under nematode infestation but yields are those determined in the normal RL trials, which are carried out in non-infested situations. With tighter rotations, BCN could be an increasing problem in some beet crops but generally this problem remains patchy within fields. It should be remembered that oilseed rape and many other brassica crops act as good hosts for BCN too, and rotation remains a key control method.

Based upon breeders’ submissions the BCN varieties could be listed as resistant, tolerant or light tolerant to BCN infection. Only tolerant types are currently listed and marketed. These types are able to produce higher yields than conventional varieties under these conditions and cause lower multiplication of the nematode population compared to conventional varieties.

The interaction of these varieties with the pest, and multiplication of BCN are complex issues influenced by a number of interrelated factors including starting population, cyst viability, sugar content, drilling date, soil type and weather. Breeders have their own information on the use of BCN varieties, as does BBRO. If you require further guidance or advice discuss with the specific breeder, BBRO or British Sugar Area Manager.

The 2021 RL includes two varieties that are tolerant to specific ALS herbicides (Conviso).  The herbicides for use with these varieties were approved by HSE in March 2019 and are available for the 2020 growing season. In the RL trials these varieties were treated with conventional herbicides. It is expected that they will have higher yields when treated with the ALS rather than conventional herbicides. More details of use of these varieties, including performance when treated with ALS herbicides, are available from KWS.


Impurities of the beet from each yield plot are measured in the tarehouse at Wissington at the same time as sugar content.  The measurements use the current industry standard systems used for the commercial crop.  These data are provided for information but at present there is no significant difference in impurities between the RL varieties.


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