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Rural Diary
1 May 2016 Matthew Crampton

Remove bolters from beet

Fodder beet has found its place on many farms around New Zealand. This is a crop that targets different stock classes and systems and is a great tool for farmers. As an industry, it is in our best interest to ensure the success of future fodder beet crops by removing bolters.

A bolter is when a beet prematurely goes to seed. To keep fodder beet as a sustainable option, effective removal of bolters is required to avoid seed being dropped onto the paddock. Any viable seed dropped by a bolter can germinate in a following season, causing volunteer beet to take hold. In this instance, fodder beet was sown but bolters were left and viable seed formed. The following year beet was sown again. Note the green rows of the crop with the large patches of volunteer beet struck from seed dropped last year. There are currently no herbicide options to control this situation, causing the result of a crop dominated by bolters.

Fodder beet and sugar beet function in the same way as other members of the beet family, when they go to seed they form a large stem which can be up to two metres tall. Bolters prematurely go to seed, shooting up above the crop. On this bolter stem you can see small flower structures that produce pollen to be spread by wind. The pollen spreads to  the other flowers pollinating the lower flowers first. This is how you can judge if the bolters you are pulling have produced viable seed.

If you are unsure if your bolters have viable seed you can open up the seed casing, these are brown and obvious on the side of the bolter stem. Open up the seed case and look for a viable seed embryo. If bolters are removed early before viable seed is produced then they can be left in the paddock.

If removal is after viable seed is produced (roughly late January but does depend on sowing date and location) make sure youremove the bolter from the paddock so the seed won’t come up on your farm.Remember, the aim of beet is to produce high quality, low cost feed each year for stock. To ensure you have this as an option in future, take the time to remove the bolters and prevent weed beet establishing in your paddocks.

For more information about fodder beet weed control,contact your local Technical Field Representative.

Matthew Crampton

Related Articles

Planning for a successful fodder beet crop

01 August 2016

Fodder beet can be a complex crop to grow and feed. To get the best out of it, make sure you start with a good plan.

Planning for a fodder beet crop could be up to two years before the intended drilling date. Forward planning helps alleviate issues such as chemical residues from previous crop herbicide applications, and allows the correction of soil nutrition.

The first part of the plan is paddock selection. Much of the cost of growing fodder beet is in the fertiliser requirement. The crop has a moderate requirement for phosphate (P) and nitrogen (N) but a relatively high requirement of potash (K) and boron (B) and prefers a pH greater than six. Choosing a fertile paddock with good soil levels of these elements will minimise your fertiliser costs.

Fodder beet also likes fertile, deep and free draining soils. Beet can grow a tap root over a meter long if unrestricted, allowing a high drought tolerance. If the rooting is impeded by shallow soils or compaction then this benefit can be lost. Because of the machinery used for cultivations and drilling, paddocks should also be relatively flat. This is essential if you plan to use a mechanical harvester.

The next part of the plan is seed selection. Think about how you are going to use the crop and with which livestock class. Options include sheep, goats, deer, R1 or R2 cattle and beef or dairy cows. Will you be grazing in-situ or lifting? What disease tolerance/resistance do you require in your region? By answering these questions, you can choose the most suitable variety. Most importantly, choose a seed that has been prill coated for reliable precision drilling and ideally with a fungicide and insecticide seed coating to maximise establishment percentage.

The last part of the plan is to make sure you have the correct machinery to grow what is essentially a vegetable crop. Much of this machinery is specialised and you will need a good reliable contractor for a successful crop. Timings of cultivations, spraying and fertiliser applications are critical. Spraying accuracy is also important, particularly for agri-chemicals. Use a good quality sprayer that has been serviced and calibrated.

A new option for pre-emergent weed control in brassicas

01 October 2016

Early weed control helps your brassica crop get off to a solid start and offers the best chance to increase yields.

Weeds can quickly over run a crop, competing for light, nutrients, moisture and space. Weeds are most competitive early in a crop’s life, when more gaps exist for weeds to fill. Even moderate weed populations can reduce yields significantly. Weed control in brassicas is important as it increases crop yields and removes problem weeds from a paddock to benefit subsequent crops and new pastures establishment. 

Prevention is often better than cure when it comes to control of grass and broadleaf weeds. Choosing an appropriate herbicide, ensuring that correct application techniques are used and that potential soil residues are considered as part of the planned crop rotation are all part of this process.

Ombré®, from Zelam, is a new post-plant, pre-emergent herbicide specifically developed for forage brassicas including rape, kale, swedes and turnips. It has an extensive list of weeds that it controls including fathen, black nightshade, shepherd’s purse, spurrey, chickweed, redroot, and grounsel (see label for full list of susceptible and suppressed weeds). Several trials have shown improved crop yields when Ombré is used as demonstrated in the graph below.

Its two active ingredients have complimentary modes of action. Alachlor is mainly absorbed by emerging shoots and translocated throughout the weed, while Clomazone is absorbed by the roots and shoots and translocates upwards in the plant. These active ingredients have been micro-encapsulated using Zelams encaps® formulation technology. Microencapsulation allows for greater control over the release of the active ingredient through the precise size, wall thickness, and porosity of the microcapsule that is produced. 

Ombré provides short term residual weed control. As the two active ingredients do not persist in the soil for an undue length of time, there will generally be no residual issues when planting following crops such as fodder beet, peas, or clover. If there is a crop failure within two months however, only re-sow another brassica. 

Application recommendations:

  • For best results, application should be made as soon as possible after planting and before the crop comes through the ground. Ombré can also be lightly soil incorporated prior to planting. 
  • Soil conditions are a critical factor. The seed bed should be fine and firm, avoiding clods and trash. Reasonable soil moisture is required and rain fall or irrigation after application is ideal. Consider soil incorporation before planting if conditions are expected to be dry. If soil incorporating, use a high rate of herbicide. Avoid using Ombré in light soils (CEC < 10) and on heavy or high organic matter soils (CEC > 30) and use the post-emergence herbicide Pycus® in these situations. If used on light soils with minimal rainfall, ploughing prior to the next crop should be considered. 
  • In certain conditions, some transient whitening of the crop may occur. This is temporary and has no effect on yield.
  • Ombré should not be mixed with glyphosate based herbicides.

For more information on how Ombré can get your crop off to a solid start and reach maximum yield potential, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Article supplied by Zelam

Weed and pest control in beets

01 October 2016

A good fodder beet crop is an excellent source of quality, cost effective dry matter. Protecting your investment in preparing and sowing down the paddock can be done by following a few simple steps.

Multiple application programmes are recommended for both weed and pest control. Plan for one pre-emergence application followed by at least two post-emergence applications if weeds continue to germinate. This will control each strike of emerging weeds and maintain an effective layer of residual herbicide in the soil to help delay the next strike.

Tank mixing of beet selective herbicides is recommended to improve the spectrum of weeds controlled. If an application is delayed by weather or other factors, rates need to be increased.

Key points for successful weed control in beets:

  1. Paddock selection is critical as beet is a high input, high yielding crop. Prior planning and management help minimise the weed seed burden in the soil. Identifying suitable beet paddocks well in advance is important to eliminate difficult weeds prior to sowing. A programmed approach is required to control rhizomatous and stoloniferous rooted plants such as couch, Californian thistle and yarrow.
  2. Apply a pre-emergence treatment after sowing and before the crop or weeds have emerged. For best results, apply to moist soil with rainfall or use overhead irrigation soon after application to incorporate the herbicides into the soil surface.
  3. For post-emergence applications, treatment at the cotyledon stage of the weeds is the most important factor for maintaining effective weed control. Larger weeds become progressively harder to control. Walk paddocks regularly and look closely to check if there has been a recent strike of weeds. For high organic matter soils (over 10 percent OM), use post-emergence treatments only. Start as soon as the crop has reached cotyledon stage and the first strike of weeds are visible. Repeat after each new strike of weeds.
  4. Tank mixes are recommended for broad spectrum weed control for both pre and post-emergence applications.
    Two approaches can be used:
    > A low-dose programme uses lower rates applied at closer intervals (7-10 days) to improve crop tolerance and where the factors mentioned below are not normally an issue. This programme is less common and used more in horticultural situations such as red beet.
    > The most common and recommended programme uses slightly higher rates applied at longer intervals (12-21 days). This helps reduce the number and cost of applications if weather, wind, and timely access to spray equipment is an issue. This programme provides the greatest flexibility with your farming operation.

Selecting Goltix® and Goltix Uno from Adama as your backbone to both programmes, gives you a performance certainty that comes from years of local and global experience and on-going research into the best possible options for protecting fodder beet crops.

To discuss a tailored weed and pest control programme, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Supplied by Adama

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