University of Hertfordshire

Sugar Beet Production Under Changing Climate: Opportunities and Challenges

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSugar Beet Cultivation, Management and Processing
EditorsVarucha Misra, Santeshwari Srivastava, Ashutosh Kumar Mall
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Chapter20
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Abstract

Sugar has formed an essential part of human diets for a long time and is an important raw material for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. It is a common name for sucrose and can be extracted from two field crops—sugar beet and sugar cane. Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) is mainly grown in countries with temperate climates while sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum L.) is cultivated primarily in tropical and subtropical countries. It was demonstrated that sugar beet yield has kept increasing since 1926, but sugar concentration (on fresh weight basis) has not changed much. In the meantime, the improved potential sugar beet yields in the varieties included in the variety trials have been rapidly translated into commercially delivered yields by sugar beet farmers. This can be seen in the increase of farmer-delivered sugar beet yields in parallel with the increase of sugar beet yields in the variety trials. The warming temperature and increasing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere due to climate change have benefitted the sugar beet crop in recent decades and will probably create opportunities to further boost sugar crop productivity in the future. However, social and environmental demands to adapt sugar beet production to both less input intensive and less pesticide-dependent cropping systems to mitigate climate change and to maintain biodiversity friendly environments require sugar beet farmers to balance the trade-offs between maximising the sugar yield and increasing the use efficiencies of inputs such as fertilisers, fungicides, pesticides, herbicides and fuels. Sugar beet breeders and other stakeholders need to breed climate-smart cultivars resistant to diseases and find other effective non-chemical solutions to the reduced availability and/or removal of reliable pesticides in the face of more new pathogens emerging under climate change.

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