Growing Sugar Beets in Europe Without Neonicotinoids

The ban on neonicotinoids in Europe is finalized. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently reconfirmed that neonicotinoid pesticides may no longer be applied, shortening the period the sugar sector has to phase out their use and work on alternatives.

Over the next few years, we expect virus yellows to cause greater damage to sugar beet yields. While alternative solutions to control and minimize the damage are available to farmers, none are as effective as neonicotinoid-treated seeds. Currently, the timely spraying of crops with the few plant protection products allowed, in combination with a diligent monitoring system, is the best option available. In the longer run, growers will have access to virus-tolerant and virus-resistant varieties supported by integrated pest management systems.

On a positive note, the ban on neonicotinoids has catalyzed strategic cooperation across the value chain. Knowledge centers and farm input companies are being mobilized to develop effective and economical solutions. Seed breeding companies are front-runners in this process.