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 late September and early November 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.
Some thought is required to the practicalities of feeding fodder beet. Starting a transition programme requires some planning as it is critical to restrict access to fodder beet. This may be done by “lifting” fodder beet and feeding this out in increasing amounts to stock grazing pasture. Transition programmes utilising fodder beet in situ may require a headland to be left without crop at sowing or a headland to be “lifted” prior to feeding to allow animals access to a small amount of the crop. The ability to “drop” a fence adjacent to the crop is also a strategy worthy of consideration.
Large crops may be problematic to feed off due to the high stocking rate required to meet allocation targets. This has practical implications for stock traffic through gateways and tractor movements for supplementary feed. For sheep and deer, particularly on restricted allocations, break dimensions meeting allocation targets may be too small to feed all animals at once and a system where two different mobs/herds graze the same break at different times (morning and afternoon) may be useful.
For some fodder beet chemicals there are considerable grazing withholding periods. All chemicals, especially fungicides need to have their withholding periods recorded so they can be reviewed if grazing plans are brought forward.
|6 - 12 months prior||Soil test. Take corrective action where necessary. A PH or at least 6.0 is required, and ideally 6.2|
|0-6 months prior||Use previous soil test to correct general nutrient deficiency
|12 weeks prior||Make contact with local seed retailer, drill contractors, fertiliser spreaders and spray contractors
Order seed and make all aware of intentions and drilling date
|6 weeks prior||Spray with glyphosate and any other chemical that may be required (be aware of previous crop chemical residues)|
|2-5 weeks prior
||Work paddock to a fine and firm seedbed and add fertiliser
Key nutrients for beet include Potassium (K), Nitrogen (N), Sodium (Na), Boron (B) Magnesium (Mg)
|1 day prior||Spray with glyphosate and insecticide|
|Drill|| Use a precision drill with true mono-germ seed. Recommended rates are to drill at 80,000 seeds/ha for grazing and
100,000 seeds/ha for lifting
|0-1 week post sowing||Chemical application of post sow/pre-emerge chemical|
|0-3 weeks post sowing
||Monitor crop for cotyledon weeds and insects, and treat accordingly with advice from your seed representative or retailer|
|3-5 weeks post sowing||Apply side dressing of nitrogen, approximately 50 kg N/ha|
|3-6 weeks post sowing||Ensure that the weed and insect control programme set up by your local seed representative or retailer is followed through|
|6 weeks post sowing||When applying herbicides from this date forward be aware of grazing withholding periods as they may limit early grazing
options (some herbicides grazing withholding periods can be as long as 100 days)
|6-12 weeks post sowing||Monitor for aphids and thistles
Start roguing any bolting plants
|12-16 weeks post sowing||Consider another application of K and or N at this time
Consider a fungicide application
|16 weeks onwards
||Continue to rogue any new bolters, ensure these are completely removed from the paddock|
This is a guide only. Significant regional differences will change the applications and timings of fertiliser. Always seek further technical advice.