Header Image

Helping grow
the country

< Back to Blog
Rural Diary
1 October 2017 External Supplier

Growing high-yielding fodder beet

Attention to detail will help you get the most out of this forage crop.

Paddock selection and preparation
Consider access, soil structure, previous crop, spray history, and fertility when selecting your paddock.

  • If planting after beet, radish, peas, potatoes or mustard, monitor crop health as these crops host aphids, which can spread disease in fodder beet. If planting fodder beet in the same paddock two years running consider potential impact of re-growth from bulb chips.
  • Control weeds well in advance as fodder beet seedlings are slow to establish and vulnerable to spray residues. Plant after pasture if uncertain about spray history.
  • You need a fine, firm seedbed and soil that is good at holding water during early development, but not prone to pugging/compaction during grazing/harvest. Consider access for machinery and/or stock.
  • Target soil test samples (150 mm in depth) a minimum of six months before sowing. Twelve months prior is best to allow time for pH adjustments. See Table 1 for target soil test levels for fodder beet
  • Fodder beet is sensitive to acid soils. To adjust pH, use good quality ag-lime and for best results cultivate lime in to achieve the desired pH throughout the top 150 mm. It generally takes one tonne of lime per hectare to raise soil pH by 0.1 unit. Products from the Cropzeal and Superten ranges are suitable base fertiliser options. Magnesium oxide and Muriate of Potash (MOP) can be used to address magnesium and potassium levels as required. Ensure any salt applied is kept away from seed.

A good start
Fodder beet has a relatively low requirement for phosphorus, but starter fertiliser is vital for early root development.

  • Actyva S is a quality compound fertiliser that delivers the nutrients required for early growth. It performs well when drilling and is useful where potassium is required. Cropzeal Boron Boost is another good compound starter fertiliser option, especially where boron is needed to avoid brown heart.
  • Seed coated with fungicide and insecticide is recommended.
  • Aphids responsible for the beet western yellow virus hatch in spring and fly to host plants. Drilling to avoid this post-hatching flight time may help avoid infestation.

Nitrogen for yield
One or two early side-dressings of nitrogen grow leaf area quickly to drive bulb yield.

  • Take soil samples to 150 mm depth for available N testing. If available N levels are less than 100 kg N/ha, apply 100-150 kg SustaiN or Nrich urea/ha at canopy closure.
  • When applying nitrogen in dry conditions, SustaiN is your best choice to reduce nitrogen losses through ammonia volatilisation.
  • Potassium demands can increase post-emergence. If you need to split potassium applications between base fertiliser and post-emergence dressings, the SustaiN K range is useful.

The finishing touch
Watch closely for pests and diseases and act quickly to avoid crop loss. Some diseases affecting fodder beet cause leaf yellowing, which has been mistaken for nutrient deficiency. Herbage test to ensure optimal nutrient application.

For help with your fodder beet crop, talk to your Ballance Nutrient Specialist or your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

Supplied by Ballance Agri-Nutrients

External Supplier

Related Articles

Waitatapia Station produces high-yield production crops

04 September 2017

Ever wondered how our Technical Team can add value to your farming operation? We profile how PGG Wrightson Technical Specialist (Soil Science) Stephanie Sloan, works alongside locally-based PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representatives (TFR) to provide support to Waitatapia Station.

Waitatapia Station in the Rangitikei District near Palmerston North is a fifth generation farm with four separate blocks totalling an area of 2,500 hectares. The Station was originally bought by the Dalrymple family in 1883. Currently run by brothers Roger and Hew, it is an arable and drystock farming operation; Hew runs the forestry and arable side and Roger manages the stock operation. Their children, the fifth generation, are now working alongside them on the Station.

The Station has annual finishing numbers of 35,000 lambs and 4,000 steers along with 9,000 pre-isolation heifers, so it is important that their production crops perform at a high level.

For the last two years PGG Wrightson Technical Specialist (Soil Science) Stephanie Sloan has been working alongside Roger at Waitatapia Station with his crop management and agronomy programme.

Roger Dalrymple said, “We work with Stephanie throughout the year, from the planning through to the harvesting stage. We harvest in May and review soon afterwards for the year ahead, then sow in late October. Then once the seed is in the ground, Stephanie’s technical advice, including a tailored agronomy (spray and fertiliser management) programme, is implemented by our team."

Stephanie Sloan said, “Roger sows in free draining sandy soil, so developing a customised agronomy programme to meet the specific needs of this soil type is essential to ensure they achieve maximum crop yields at harvest time. We have also implemented a soil and herbage testing programme that has been put in place over the past few years for their production crops."

Roger adds, Fodder beet grows well here. We make decisions based on yield and it is cheaper to produce dry matter with forage crops than it is winter grazed pasture.

“By working with Stephanie and reviewing and then adjusting our crop choice and agronomy programme every year, we have made yield increases and increased bulb weight year-on-year. We produce a silage mix which we feed to our feedlot cattle from May through to October.

“Not only has our yield increased year-on-year but the numbers stack up too. We have produced up to 32 tonne/ha DM (bulb only) this year with about 15 percent tops. The experts say that production crops, like fodder beet, should cost $2,500 to $3,000 per hectare. This year it cost us $2,600 per hectare – so we are pretty happy with that result. We harvested about 80 hectares in fodder beet and are looking to increase that area next year.

“We have a big finishing operation here and because we are buying in weaners at a high price currently we need to have an efficient feed production programme so we still make a few dollars at the other end when they get to R2s,” Roger said.

Stephanie concludes, “Waitatapia Station is a highly diverse operation across their four blocks, so there is always the opportunity to try something new, whether it be an upcoming forage variety or an agronomy option. The knowledge gained from these initiatives contributes to both research and development from a PGG Wrightson perspective, and gives us the opportunity to share this with our customers throughout New Zealand.”

Pictured: PGG Wrightson’s Technical Specialist (Soil Science) Stephanie Sloan inspects a paddock of fodder beet with Roger Dalrymple in late June 2017 prior to harvesting for silage.

Proven fodder beet weed control options

01 October 2017

With fodder beet a slow establishing crop and highly susceptible to weed competition, it is crucial that a thorough weed control programme is used.

Through its decades of experience and involvement in sugar beet production in Europe, Bayer Cropscience has developed a range of herbicide solutions for beet crops. These products and formulations have been refined and improved over many years to provide highly effective and reliable weed control, while being safe to the beet crop.

This herbicide technology has been brought to New Zealand and has proved to be equally effective here. Many of the local trials have involved assessing herbicide rates and timing of applications to monitoring efficacy on weeds and crop safety. Trials have also been conducted with other common tank mix partners to ensure that efficacy and safety is not compromised.

Bayer beet herbicide options include pre and post emergence products.

  • Nortron is a widely used pre-emergence herbicide and should be applied immediately after sowing. Nortron manages weed pressure through the crop emergence period through to beet cotyledon and two true leaf stage, where post emergence herbicides can then be safely used.
  • Betanal Quattro is an easy to use and convenient post emergence herbicide that provides knockdown and residual weed control. Betanal Quattro can be used at low rates early at the beet cotyledon stage, with rates able to be increased to control larger weeds from the beet two true leaf stage onwards.
  • Betanal Forte provides a useful post emergence contact herbicide option which needs to be tank mixed with other herbicides to provide residual control and broaden the weed spectrum.

Fodder beet crops require regular monitoring through the establishment to the crop closing in. Ensure the right product is applied at the right time. Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative to discuss your fodder beet weed control programme.

Supplied by Bayer Cropscience

Choosing the right kale

01 October 2017

Forage quality should be a key consideration when deciding on the kale cultivar that will ultimately determine next winter’s animal performance.

With a wide range of kale cultivars available, it is important to differentiate between short, intermediate and giant types, carefully weighing up the advantages that each can offer to different farming systems. Kale height ultimately impacts on DM yield and other important characteristics including leaf percentage, stem thickness, palatability and feed quality. Short kale types tend to have lower yields but offer higher leaf percentages and stem quality. At the other end of the spectrum, giant types offer the highest yields, but often at the sacrifice of leaf percentages and stem quality.

In a recent study in New Zealand, DM yield, leaf percentage and quality assessments were made between May and September 2016 on four types of kale. Kestrel, a short to medium kale type, was shown to carry higher leaf percentages through the winter and produce high quality stems. This combination of high leaf percentages and soft quality stems means Kestrel can offer a high Metabolisable Energy (ME) feed suitable for chasing live weight gain targets in priority stock classes. Regal, an intermediate type kale, also maintained high leaf percentages while achieving excellent DM yields.

If production of bulk feed for maintenance of live weight is the primary decision driver, a giant type kale should be considered. Traditionally giant type kales have provided high yields while producing plants with significantly lower leaf percentages. However, recent plant breeding efforts have made significant gains in this area. Corsa, a new generation kale, offers significantly higher leaf percentages over traditional giant types while maintaining high DM yields.

For Ian and Jules Luedamann, Kestrel has been the perfect fit in their system since first trying this kale over ten years ago. Together they run a mixed dryland sheep and cropping operation planting around 13 ha of Kestrel each year to provide winter feed for their 1,400 ewes in Anama, Canterbury. Following permanent pasture, sowing Kestrel is the first part of a rotation that is followed by barley before planting back into permanent pasture.

This year’s Kestrel crop was treated and sown at 5 kg/ha on 10 November 2016 yielding an impressive 10,000 kg DM/ha. Average yields in this dryland situation normally range from 9,000-11,000 kg DM/ha, however, Ian’s primary driver for selecting Kestrel is its feed quality and system fit. He has been impressed with Kestrel’s soft stems ensuring palatability, high utilisation and animal performance. High utilisation is important as this means less crop wastage and stem residuals to deal with at the end of the season.

Before the start of grazing, yield assessments are made to ensure accurate crop allocation over the coming winter months. During grazing, utilisation is carefully monitored and Ian is quick to increase break sizes and supplements during adverse weather when utilisation can decline. Kale breaks are always supplemented with cereal silage ensuring ewes have a suitable source of fibre. Cereal silage provides an additional fibre source to ensure ewe Neutral Detergent Fibre (NDF) requirements are met. Brassica crops generally contain insufficient NDF and providing a suitable NDF source such as hay, silage or standing pasture is critical to avoiding nutritional problems such as ruminal acidosis.

Making the right cultivar decision this spring is critical to next winter’s animal performance. Contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative for more information.

Article supplied by PGG Wrightson Seeds

Share this page