Fodder beet (Beta vulgaris) is increasing in popularity due to their reputation for very large, high quality yields. Fodder beet are sown from early October through mid-December, with the potential yield being closely linked to time in the ground.
More recently Agricom has linked with a world leading French fodder beet breeding program to access new genetics for improved yield and quality.
It is important to get a soil test at least six months before sowing fodder beet as it is very sensitive to low pH levels in the soil, with a pH of at least 6 being required and ideally 6.2. Any soil nutrient correction should be made prior to sowing.
Paddocks should be sprayed with glyphosate and a contact insecticide (e.g. chlorpyrifos) prior to working. Soils should ideally be free-draining and relatively free of weeds. The soils should be worked into a fine tilth before sowing to allow for even sowing depth.
A general fertiliser recommendation is: pre-sowing; CropZeal 16 at 150-200 kg/ha plus NaCl (salt) at 350 kg/ha. Sulphur, boron and magnesium may be beneficial on some soil types.
It is important when choosing the paddock to ensure that there has been no recent history of chemical use a fodder beet is very sensitive to residual chemicals.
A 'stale seedbed' technique to remove weed competition is best. This is where a seedbed is prepared at least 4-6 weeks before planting, and germinating weeds are sprayed with a non residual herbicide immediately before planting.
Depending on location sowing between mid-September and mid-October is generally recommended. Earlier sowings risk vernalisation causing bolting, while later sowing reduces yield potential and germination may be hindered in areas prone to dry summers.
A precision drill is recommended for sowing fodder beet. This will place the seed at the correct depth (2 cm), and space plants accurately ensuring the correct sowing rate.
Due to slow establishment and the time taken to form a leaf canopy, early and timely weed and insect control is essential; please contact your local seed retailer or chemical representative for more details.