Dry weather and diseases predicted to hit East Anglia’s sugar beet harvest
Sugar processors are predicting a drop in East Anglia’s sugar beet crop this year following a record dry spring and an increased disease threat from aphids.
After completing one of the wettest – and longest – harvest campaigns in memory earlier this year, British Sugar says beet growers are now facing near-drought conditions after East Anglia’s driest May on record.
Agriculture director Peter Watson said: “Arable farmers are facing challenges in many crops this year due to the extreme weather conditions and sugar beet is no different. This means the emerging plant populations have been mixed – with some very poor.
“We’ve also seen unprecedented numbers of aphids on the crop, increasing the disease threat.
“Although the sugar beet crop has good powers of recovery and recent rainfall is welcome, this would need to persist for some time. We would therefore predict a reduction in crop harvested compared to last year.”
Last year, a total of 7.77m adjusted tonnes were processed by British Sugar’s four factories in Cantley near Acle, Wissington in west Norfolk, Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and Newark in Nottinghamshire.
The average final yield of 78 tonnes per hectare for 2019/20 was above the five-year average of 75 tonnes per hectare.
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