Sugar beet breeders continue to lead the way in rapidly developing new and improved varieties, according to the British Society of Plant Breeders (BSPB).

Ongoing investment in research and development is bringing new varieties to improve pest and disease resistance, whilst also increasing yields, it said.

Plant breeders have also demonstrated these varieties can improve nitrogen and water-use efficiency.

These benefits all count towards ensuring the resilience of UK domestic sugar production in the coming years.

BSPB CEO Sam Brooke commented:

“In what has been a challenging couple of years it remains vital that new genetics are constantly brought to market to help growers increase yields by tackling diseases such as virus yellows.

"Nine new varieties have been added to the Recommended List this year complementing the 13 proven varieties already on the list.

"This is testament to the tenacity of plant breeders and their ability to address the issues and concerns of sugar beet growers throughout the UK.”

The National List and Recommended List are now administered separately to encourage new and improved genetics to reach the UK market as quickly as possible.

“By breeding varieties that can increase yields, whilst reducing our reliance on the use of chemistry and nitrogen, we can help to reduce costs and safeguard UK sugar beet production.

"More robust varieties will help to challenge diseases, but breeders need the security that the UK market can be sustainable in order to continue the high level of investment in R&D,” she added.