One of the most serious diseases affecting sugarbeets is Cercospora Leafspot. This fungal disease attacks the plant foliage, causing small dead areas or spots. Under weather conditions favourable to disease, the whole leaf will turn black, resulting in a firing symptom that causes losses in crop yields and a reduction in sugar content.
BEETcast™ is a weather-based modelling program designed to help sugarbeet growers determine optimum fungicide application timing for the control of Cercospora. The project was originally initiated by the Michigan Sugarbeet Advancement Research Committee. Dr. Ron Pitblado, of Ridgetown College and Weather INnovations Consulting LP, developed an advisory system to indicate the most suitable intervals for fungicide application. This advisory takes into account specific weather conditions, such as temperature and leaf wetness. Researchers from the Michigan Sugar Company, along with pathologists from Michigan State University, conducted trials to determine these initial optimum times.
BEETcast™ uses a scale of disease severity values (DSV), where each day is given a rating of 0 to 4, with 0 being a low risk day, and 4 being high. In order to determine when spraying is required, these DSV values accumulate until a number is reached, where spray application is recommended. This system allows growers to tailor their program to the level of risk management they are comfortable with, and to minimize the dollars spent on disease control.