Scientists in the US have developed two new breeding lines for smooth root sugar beet that could pave the way for more efficient processing method for manufacturers.
The latest in a series of seven 'SR' - otherwise known as smooth-root - lines developed by researchers at the sugar beet and bean research unit of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the two lines have the highest sugar content of the smooth-root lines, 17 per cent, close to the 17.5 to 18 per cent found in commercial varieties.
Tinkering with shapes and forms of raw materials has the capacity for far reaching savings for manufacturers. In this case, smooth roots could axe the amount of soil by half that makes it into the processing line, thereby cutting costs on cleaning and disposal.
Smooth roots are important to the sugar industry because sugar beet roots lined with deep grooves tend to have more soil sticking to them when they are pulled from the ground.
The latest lines - SR-96 and SR-97 - were developed by ARS geneticist J. Mitchell McGrath and the late Joseph W. Saunders, along with ARS plant physiologist John M. Halloin and geneticist J. Clair Theurer, both now retired.
According to the ARS report, the American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned co-operative, gave the ARS researchers a high-sucrose line of sugar beets to help bring the sucrose level of smooth-root sugar beets closer to commercial levels.