A new naturally herbicide-tolerant sugar beet variety, sold in a package with a dedicated herbicide for broad spectrum weed control, will be available to UK growers from spring 2020.

The Conviso Smart system results from a collaboration between plant breeder KWS and crop protection product manufacturer Bayer Crop Science that started in 2001.The first Conviso Smart ALS tolerant variety, the hybrid Smart Jannika, is on the BBRO Recommended list for use in 2020. It is designed to be used with the Conviso One herbicide, an oil dispersion mix containing the ALS actives foramsulfuron and thiencarbazone-methyl.

The near two-decade development programme set out to breed a herbicide tolerant variety through natural plant breeding. A priority was to obtain good weed control in light of the reduced herbicide chemistry becoming available, while reducing the number of herbicide applications needed in a season.

The system was first launched across six EU countries in 2018, followed by a further 12 countries this year system where it will be used on around 55,000 hectares. The UK is among an additional six country markets to receive the technology for 2020.

Optimum treatment with Conviso One herbic1de occurs at the crop’s 2-4 leaf stage, although there is some flexibility here, applied at 1 litre/ha post-emergence, although the product also has some residual activity. Excellent weed control has been proven over 53 European trials.

Apart from Smart Jannika, there are a further three varieties in their second year of trials and five first year candidates. The companies claim that using Smart varieties as recommended with the Conviso One herbicide can achieve a 5% yield increase.

The system will be marketed with full stewardship guidelines to manage weed beet bolting and protect the product from resistance development.

The partners intend to market the Conviso beet seed and herbicide as a package through a single supplier, not separately, with the breeder KWS-UK acting as a commissioned agent for the herbicide. They are in discussions with British Sugar over the route to market.

The package will initially be available through Frontier and Hutchinsons, with sufficient product to supply 10,000 units in 2020. Agrii and Agrovista will be added in 2021 as more seed becomes available. All distributors will ensure growers are up to speed with the stewardship guidelines.

Prices are yet to be set, but the companies envisage it will cost around the same as a conventional variety seed and three spray herbicide programme.

“The Conviso Smart system will simplify weed control by reducing the number of sprays and mixes required to keep the sugar beet crop clean of weeds,” says Edward Hagues, Bayer campaign manager for root crops This will improve ease of management and free -up the sprayer at what is a busy time of year for growers.”

Ben Bishop, UK sugarbeet country manager for KWS adds “It is central to the Conviso Smart system that the herbicide and seed are made available as a single package to support stewardship needs. Consequently, we have opted to work with partners offering a network of qualified advisers overseeing the whole rotation and which distribute seeds and herbicides across the crop area.

More information via www.convisosmart.co.uk