SOIL TYPE/SITE SELECTION:
Fodder beet can provide high energy fodder when grass growth drops over the winter, as well as reducing the need to buy in expensive bulk feeds when silage stocks are low. Livestock can graze the leafy green tops and roots in the field or eat the green residues that are left on the land after the main crop has been harvested and sold. Generally, the higher the dry matter % the more suitable for ‘lifting’ it is. Lower dry matter % varieties should be used for grazing in situ.
Different varieties of fodder beet are scored according to yield, dry matter content and the percentage of root growth. Some varieties have a large yield which gives them a high overall dry matter (DM) content above the average of 12-19%, while others may provide more green top or have a smooth skin finish which helps lower problems with dirt and soil during harvesting.
The period from late March through to April is the prime time for sowing fodder beet or when soil temperature is above 5°C. Delaying the drilling of a crop may lead to a reduction in yield while drilling the crop too early could cause bolting issues during a late harvest.
During establishment the crop does not compete well with weeds so it is important to use stale seed bed techniques with glyphosate to produce a weed free seed bed.
This is a demanding crop in terms of nutrients. All the fertiliser, except the nitrogen, is best applied in the autumn. The nitrogen can be applied immediately after drilling. The use of slurry/farmyard manure will be beneficial, as is the application of sodium on appropriate soil types. Trace elements (especially manganese and boron) are important to fodder beet
A pre-cleaner is recommended to remove soil contamination. The high DM varieties tend to store better on a long-term basis and are less prone to damage.
Fodder beet may be fed chopped or whole. Chopping beet should provide a better liveweight gain in beef animals and this will also reduce the risk of choking. The roots have a high energy but low protein content and make a good substitute for grain in rations. Crops can also be strip-grazed in outwintering systems.
Sowing time: March - April
Sowing rate: 100,000 seeds/ha50,000 seeds/acre
Seed sold in one acre packs (50,000 seed units)
YIELD & FEED QUALITY
Average DM yield: 15-18 tonne DM/ha
Dry Matter: 15 -25%
Crude protein: 12-13% (leaves)
Digestibility: 78%+ (D value)
Metabolisable energy: 12.5 – 13 Mj/kg DM