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Tereos sees its French sugar beet yields down 12% as harvest starts

PARIS (Reuters) - Sugar group Tereos expects the average yield for its French growers in this year’s sugar beet harvest to fall by about 12% from last year after crop disease hit some growing regions, it said on Friday.

Jaundice disease spread by aphids, which have proliferated due to warm weather, have caused severe damage on some farms.

To help a sector already weakened by low prices in recent years, the government has proposed allowing sugar beet growers to use a type of pesticide currently banned because of risks to bees.

Tereos, the world’s second-largest sugar producer by volume, said that the drop in yields for its French members this year could exceed 30% in zones affected by jaundice.

The group was launching its annual harvest run on Friday but has pushed back the start in regions hit by the disease, with the last launch scheduled for Oct. 2, it said in a statement.

Tereos’ sugar beet harvest volumes were expected to fall by 9% compared with 2019, with a 3.5% increase in planted area partly offsetting the anticipated decline in yields, it said.

In a first forecast for France’s total sugar beet crop, the farm ministry on Tuesday projected a 15% drop in production to 32.2 million tonnes, with yield and area both estimated to fall at a national level.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by David Goodman and Elaine Hardcastle

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