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The relative effects of drought stress and virus yellows on the yield of sugarbeet in the UK, 1980–95

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 1998

K. W. JAGGARD
Affiliation:
IACR-Broom's Barn, Higham, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP28 6NP, UK
A. M. DEWAR
Affiliation:
IACR-Broom's Barn, Higham, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP28 6NP, UK
J. D. PIDGEON
Affiliation:
IACR-Broom's Barn, Higham, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk IP28 6NP, UK

Abstract

Drought stress and virus yellows disease are two of the major problems of sugarbeet crop production in the UK. We have calculated the annual national drought losses from 1980 to 1995 by using long term data sets for two sites (IACR-Broom's Barn, Suffolk and ADAS Gleadthorpe, Nottinghamshire) to relate yield loss to cumulative potential summer moisture deficit, and combining these relationships with regional meteorological records, soil type and crop distribution data.

Experimentally measured relationships between yield losses and the timing of virus yellows infection were combined with annual survey data of the extent of the problem, and calculated infection dates from the UK aphid suction trap network, to calculate actual national annual losses to the disease. Potential losses in the absence of control measures were then calculated by use of data from trials and surveys of pesticide use.

The results showed a mean annual loss of production to drought stress of 141000 t/year of sugar, 10·5% of production, with a loss to the industry of £27·9 million. Losses in individual years varied from zero to 2·5 times the mean figure. Actual losses to virus yellows were much smaller, due to the efficacy of treatments, averaging 24700 t/year of sugar (1·8% of national yield, financial loss £5·5 million). Average potential virus yellows losses in the absence of control measures were approximately double this.

Control of virus yellows is a major, cost-effective contributor to rising and consistent sugarbeet production. Nationally, irrigation has made little impact on drought losses and, due to constraints in surface water supply, this situation appears likely to continue. Improved drought stress tolerance represents the largest single opportunity for yield and profitability improvement of the sugarbeet crop in the UK at present. Predicted climate change appears likely to increase the severity of both drought and disease stresses. Drought stress appears relatively less important in other NW European sugarbeet-growing areas.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1998 Cambridge University Press

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