Sugar beet production in Serbia is competitive on the European market

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The million euro investment made by Sunoko, the largest sugar producer in Serbia and one of the most efficient sugar producers in Europe, in the previous two years at the Research and Development Center in Ljukovo near Indjija, has contributed to achieving the goal of producing more than 10 tons of sugar per hectare in the fields of Serbia. Sugar beet justified the name “Queen of field crops” in this dry year as well. While the yields of other crops such as soybeans and corn have dropped significantly, a record sugar yield of 10.5 t / ha was achieved on average in Srem and about 10.2 t / ha in Bačka,” said Slobodan Košutić, director of Sunoko.
“We are on the right track. Despite the unfavorable conditions this and last year, we are witnessing an upward trend in the results achieved in this branch of agriculture. Science and knowledge transfer to all producers is a recipe for increasing yields in fields under sugar beet. A few years ago, it was unthinkable to have producers at the level of 80 to over 100 tons of payable beets per hectare, which is from 12 to over 16 tons of sugar per hectare. This year, we have producers whose level of production is at the level of the best European producers, and we are proud of them,” stated Košutić.
“Apart from testing new genetics in order to find new varieties that will better meet the specifics of production conditions in Serbia, the focus of the Research and Development Center (IRC) is to improve protection against cercospores and solve the problem of sugar beet root rot. Sunoko’s IRC is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and mechanization to perform experiments. The equipment within all laboratories is at the level of reference world scientific institutes, for example the molecular laboratory has devices for performing PCR, Real-Time PCR, as well as serological analyzes, while the soil laboratory is equipped with the latest generation ICP device. The protection against Cercospora beticola has significantly improved in the previous period, which resulted in an average digestion from the level of 13.8% in the 2015 campaign and up to an estimated 17.0% for the 2021 campaign. In addition to laboratory tests, constant contact and touring of the field and producers by colleagues from the IRC and the transfer of knowledge through the raw materials sector to end producers is the key to success. We will continue to deal with this topic in the coming period, because there is still room for improvement,” said Dr. Nenad Trkulja, director of the IRC.
At the seminar held at the Sheraton Hotel in Novi Sad, lectures were given by eminent experts in the field of sugar beet protection and mineral nutrition. One of the lecturers, prof. Dr. Miroslav Nikolic from the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, University of Belgrade, in his lecture discussed the physiological role of mineral nutrients for the growth and development of sugar beet, with emphasis on their impact on root quality and plant resistance to stress. Rhizosphere nutrient availability and root-soil interactions were also considered as the basis for innovative sustainable nutrition strategies. The lecture also provided a critical insight into the methods for determining the availability of nutrients in the soil and making decisions about fertilization. “This lecture aims to raise awareness of the importance of root efficiency for soil and fertilizer mobilization, and to reduce mineral fertilizer intake, as well as increased resilience of the plant to environmental stress, all of which are of both economic and environmental importance,” said prof. Dr. Nikolic.
The panel discussion was attended by the most successful sugar beet producers from all three production regions of Vojvodina, who enthusiastically debated what is the secret of their success in creating sugar yields over 10 tons per hectare. They pointed out that for the successful yield of sugar beet, it is important to respect the principles of good agricultural practice regarding the choice of pre-crops, respect for crop rotation, choice of variety and good agricultural techniques. This year, Ninoslav Colic from Srbobran produced sugar beet on 30 hectares and achieved a yield of 90 tons of payable beet per hectare, ie. 14 tons of sugar per hectare, which is one of the record results for Serbia. In the previous period, some of the panelists fertilized for the first time on the basis of recommendations according to agrochemical analyzes of soil given by IRC Sunoko, or they expanded the crop rotation and conducted leaf protection based on Sunoko’s recommendations and achieved record results, BizLife reports