European sugar beet was mostly grown from seeds treated by neonicotinoids which provided efficient control of some important sugar beet pests (aphids and flea beetles). The EU commission regulation from 2018 to ultimately restrict the outdoor application of imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin could significantly affect European sugar beet production. Although alternative insecticides (spinosad, chlorantraniliprole, neem) are shown to have certain effects on particular pests when applied as seed treatment, it is not likely that in near future any insecticide will be identified as a good candidate for neonicotinoids’ substitution. The aim of this research is to evaluate residue levels (LC-MS/MS method) of imidacloprid and thiamethoxam applied as seed dressing in sugar beet plants during two growing seasons in fields located in different agro-climatic regions and in greenhouse trials. In 2015, 25 to 27 days post planting (PP) maximum of 0.028% of imidacloprid and 0.077% of thiamethoxam were recovered from the emerged plants, respectively. In 2016, the recovery rate from the emerged plants 40 days PP was 0.003% for imidacloprid and 50 days PP was up to 0.022% for thiamethoxam. There were no neonicotinoid residues above the maximum residue level in roots at the time of harvesting, except in case of samples from thiamethoxam variant collected from greenhouse trials in 2016 (0.053 mg/kg). The results of this research lead to the conclusion that the seed treatment of sugar beet leaves minimal trace in plants because of the complete degradation while different behavior has been observed in the two fields and a glasshouse trial regarding the residues in soil. Dry conditions, leaching incapacity, or irregular flushing can result in higher concentrations in soil which can present potential risk for the succeeding crops. The results of our study could provide additional arguments about possible risk assessment for seed treatment in sugar beet.
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