Virus Yellows – the route to the solution

04 August 2023

An image of crops affected by the virus yellows disease in a field

The homegrown sugar beet sector has published a new brochure to outline and explain the huge amount of work being done to find a long-term, sustainable solution to Virus Yellows disease.

The disease is actually a complex of three viruses, spread by aphids and therefore very difficult to control. During 2020 UK growers suffered yield losses of up to 80%, making Virus Yellows disease the biggest current threat to the UK’s sugar beet sector.

NFU Sugar Board member Alison Lawson said Virus Yellows is “one of the biggest risks” to her sugar beet growing business.

“The perfect storm of 2020 was devastating – we suffered yield losses of 30% across our planted area as well as drastic reductions in associated sugar content.

“We continue to battle against infection and crop losses, but with Virus Yellows representing a complex of three distinct viruses, this fight remains extremely challenging,” she said.

The cross-industry Virus Yellows Taskforce, spearheaded by the British Beet Research Organisation, is investing millions of pounds each year in cutting-edge research into potential virus control measures.

NFU Sugar Board Alison Lawson

Virus Yellows continues to constitute one of the biggest risks to my sugar beet growing business.”

NFU Sugar Board member Alison Lawson

Protecting the sugar beet crop

Jointly produced by NFU Sugar, British Sugar, and the BBRO, ‘Protecting the Sugar Beet Crop: The Homegrown Sugar Industry Virus Yellows Pathway’, details the various workstreams, incorporating Integrated Pest Management and innovative grower practices, traditional breeding, gene editing, sustainable spray programmes, and seed treatments.

Read and download: ‘Protecting the Sugar Beet Crop: The Homegrown Sugar Industry Virus Yellows Pathway’

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