Fodder beet

Fodder beet - Beta vulgaris - Vioederbiet - Futterrübe - Betterave fourragère
Sowing rate
80.000 seeds/ha
Early spring
Sowing depth
2-3 cm
Row distance
50 cm
Brigadier, Zentaur poly


Fodder beet is one of the highest yielding forage options available to farmers. Fresh yields of up to 300 t/ha with a dry matter content of 11-12% are possible.

Fodder beet is a long growing-season crop which requires a high level of care in establishment. It is not a brassica so it is not susceptible to brassica diseases. Once established, it is highly palatable to animals. Fodder beet requires a weed free, firm fine seed bed that is well drained with no sub-soil compaction. Sowing is best in early spring season (soil temp 5° C, after the last frosts). Sowing rate is recommended at 80.000 plants per hectare through a precision drill. If seed is sown using conventional drill, a higher seeding rate is needed. Care is required when preparing a seed bed but after establishment the crop will tolerate moderate drought conditions better than forage plants currently do. To promote rapid establishment, seed should be sown to a depth of 2-3 cm, in drier seed beds it is best to sow slightly deeper so the seed can access as much moisture early on as possible. A successful fodder beet can be extremely profitable.


Seed Force, a new Zealand based company in which we participate, developed a new way of using fodder beets. Instead of using special harvesting equipment to lift the roots after which storage is required, plots will be strip-grazed by livestock. At maturity, animals are moved into a strip for grazing. Because the beets do not have to be lifted, animals can use the entire plant, including leaves, which give up to 5 t/ha extra dry matter. All together, the total yield of a Brigadier crop gives 20 to 40 tonnes dry matter in a period of 4-6 months. Strip grazing is recommended to avoid damage to the crop.

Essential for the grazing system is the absence of severe night frosts up to the final grazing.


Brigadier is most suitable for strip grazing due to:

  • Bulbs sit high up out of the soil, which means low tare and easy accessible for animals
  • Soft bite due to low dry matter content makes it suitable for all kinds of animals
  • Abundant healthy leaves give good weed suppression and extra dry matter yield
  • High sugar level makes is very palatable
  • Suitable for milk- and beef cattle, sheep, deer and other animals
  • Brigadier breaks the traditional weed and pest cycle of brassicas
  • Relative low use of nitrogen
  • Palatable forage stimulates extra high total intake by animals

An additional advantage of fodder beet in general is their ability to substitute sodium (Na) for potassium (K) in nutrient uptake. This makes fodder beet one of the few crops suitable for cultivation on saline soils, which contain high levels of sodium.

Fodder beet seed can be divided in two groups; monogerm seed and multigerm seed. Monogerm varieties can be precision drilled but multigerm varieties have to be singled. It depends on the shape of the beet if fodder beets can be harvested by machine. The storage life of fodder beets improves through a late harvest, the leaves removed down to the base of the leaf petioles and by avoiding damage.



This is a polyploid traditional mangel beet with orange flesh. Fresh yields up to 140 tons per hectare are not an exception. Harvesting can be done by hand or by machine and soil tare is low. The huge leaf production stays fresh and healthy until the moment of harvest. Brigadier has a dry matter content of around 12% and the beets are very suitable for storage. Its roots are more above the soil (65%) than average fodder beets enabling easy access to the crop when strip feeding. This is a better option for grazing and it is a softer bite, which is more suitable for feeding younger stock.



This is a polyploid variety with white beets. It produces high fresh yields. Harvesting can be done by hand or by machine. The dry matter content is 13 to 14% and the beets are very suitable for long storage.