Ideal for the UK’s unique maritime and highly variable climate, Fodder Beet produces a consistent, reliable output, regarded by many as potentially the highest yielding forage crop. Fodder beet has a robust and durable growth habit, combined with good resistance to disease, excellent ground cover, a broad drilling window and very long harvesting period. As a feed, fodder beet is highly palatable and can be grazed in situ or lifted, stored and then fed whole or chopped.Elsoms and French plant breeding company, Florimond Desprez, continue to test and develop new varieties of fodder beet through their extensive breeding and trialling programme in Lincolnshire and Northern France.
High yielding Fodder Beet from Florimond Desprez
Rotation and choice of field
A minimum 4 year rotation is desirable to avoid the build-up of nematodes in the soil and weed beet in the crop. Fodder beet should ideally be grown on light to medium soils. The crop will do best in low rainfall and coastal areas, avoiding high altitudes and very wet or cold locations. Beet should not be grown on acid soils and the optimum pH is 6.50 to 7.00.
Soil temperatures need to be above 5°C with an optimum drilling date of early April. Drilling too early will encourage bolting and later drilling may delay harvesting and reduce yield potential. Seed should be precision drilled at a rate, allowing for field factors, to establish 75-100 plants per square metre. Drilling depth should be 2.5-3.0cm depending on soil moisture levels. Row widths and seed spacing will vary according to the harvesting equipment likely to be used. Seed is supplied in 50,000 seed units.
P & K should be applied in the autumn and Nitrogen in the spring at drilling. Rates will vary with soil indices, previous cropping and FYM use. Your fertiliser supplier or agronomist will be able to give details of application rates to suit your individual circumstances.
It is essential to keep the crop weed free in the early weeks of growth and therefore it is likely to require a pre-emergence herbicide followed by a post-emergence product where necessary. Seek professional advice for specific products to suit your requirements.
Diseases and insect pests
Seed is supplied with a standard fungicide and insecticide seed treatment with Gaucho for aphid control as an optional extra. Depending on the rotation and the weather, slugs, wireworms, leatherjackets and aphids could be a problem. Professional advice should be sought from your agronomist with respect to treatment programmes to suit the situation in your crop.
Harvesting for maximum yields.
For maximum yields fodder beet requires a 7 month growing season. As 15-20% of the final yield is often produced in October harvesting should be left as late as practicable to suit soil types and to avoid excessive frost damage.
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