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Fodder Beet: Offers higher yield potential

Advice from our specialist Advice from our specialist25-3-2020

Did you know that fodder beet offers a higher yield potential than any other arable fodder crop. Find out why you should consider growing fodder beet by reading our Forage Specialist's article.

Fodder Beet ForFarmers

Fodder beet is grown as a main root crop, which requires similar husbandry to sugar beet. Care must be taken when feeding due to its rapid fermentation in the rumen.

Stock should be introduced gradually to fodder beet and an area of grassland should be available for animals to return to. Water and hay or straw should also be made available.

Medium DM varieties tend to have a higher percentage of the root above the ground and can be lifted with a top lifter and have a relatively low dirt tare. These can be fed whole to stock. High DM varieties tend to sit further in the ground and require a sugar beet harvester to lift them. 

Due to the higher dirt tare and hardness of the root, these varieties may need to be chopped and washed before feeding. After wilting the tops may be fed to stock and can contribute a further yield of 3-4t protein rich DM/ha. However, feeding fodder beet tops can cause animals to scour so seek advice before feeding. 

Why should I grow fodder beet?

  • High yielding
  • Alternative to cereals
  • Highly palateable and digestible
  • Excellent supplement to grass silage
  • High in energy, however, low in portein and fibre
  • Improves milk yields
  • Can be fed in house or grazed in situ

Our Top Tips

1. Sowing period

Late March to end of April – after last frost, soil temp at least 5ºC. Sowing earlier in cold conditions can lead to bolting. Drilling too early will encourage bolting. A light to medium, free draining field is ideal with a pH of 7. Good accessibility is vital for heavy harvesting machinery.

2. Precision drill only

50,000 seeds/acre (seed sold in acre packs) into a firm, fine tilth to a depth of 2.5/3cm. Use deeper depth for dry seedbeds. A precision drill is essential.

3. Fertiliser

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.

Trace elements especially manganese and boron are important to fodder beet.

4. Weeds

It's important to control weeds as their presence can severely reduce yields.

5. Harvesting

Soil contamination must be kept to a minimum. Do not lift too early as 30% of the DM is added in the last four weeks of growth. A pre-cleaner is recommended to remove soil contamination. Clamps should be checked for 'hot spots'. High dry matter varieties tend to store better on a long term basis and are less prone to damage.

6. Utilisation

October to March. It may be fed chopped  or whole. Chopped beet will provide a better liveweight gain in beef animals. Feeding the roots at ground level can reduce the risk of choking

7. Treatment

Fodder beet is treated with Force 10 for the control of soil pests. Force contains tefluthrin, which reduces the damage caused by a range of pests which attack fodder beet seedlings. 

For more information

For more details please contact your local Account Manager or contact our Forage Team here.