Despite the fact that fodder beet is an industrial crop grown for animals, it occupies a worthy place among its relatives. Let us at least recall that it was with the help of fodder beets that sugar beets were obtained, which plays an important role in the human diet and which is used to obtain sugar.
In the modern world, fodder beets are widely grown in many countries of the world, including Russia. This crop is one of the most productive in fodder production, not only on an industrial scale, but also in personal household plots. Fodder beets are simply irreplaceable in the winter diet of many domestic animals: cows, pigs, rabbits, horses. Largely thanks to the feed beet, during the period of feeding dairy cattle with dry feed, it is possible to obtain rather high milk yields.
The chemical composition of the fodder beet root crop is close to other types of beets and contains fiber, pectin, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, mineral salts and protein, which help maintain the health and good productivity of pets. Its distinctive feature is the high content of dietary fiber, fiber and vegetable protein, especially important elements in the diet of livestock.
Bred in Germany in the 16th century, fodder beets quickly spread throughout Europe and beyond. After all, this such a valuable crop is also a very unpretentious plant with a high yield. For the preparation of feed, not only the root crops themselves are used, but also the tops of the plant.
Fodder beets (Beta vulgaris L. subsp. Vulgaris var. Crassa) is a biennial plant. In the first year of its life, the plant forms a root crop, on average weighing from 1.5 to 2.6 kg, and an abundant root rosette of leaves. In the second year, the plant gives tall flowering shoots, with the help of which this culture propagates.
Unlike sugar beets, fodder beets, depending on the variety, can have a variety of fruit shapes: oval, conical, cylindrical, spherical, etc. The color palette of root crops is wide, most often the roots are red, white or yellow. The varieties of fodder beets differ in terms of the degree of depth in the soil.
The most productive varieties are cylindrical, bag-shaped and elongated-cone-shaped. Varieties with conical root crops of white, pink and yellow color are distinguished by their sugar content.
The different shape of the root crop is due to biological differences in the structure of the plant. A well-developed root and poor neck development in conical fruits determine its location by 4/5 in the soil. A very strongly developed neck of cylindrical root crops allows them to be 2/3 on the surface of the earth. And spherical root crops develop for the most part on the surface of the earth, only the root of the plant is in the soil. Varieties with a shallow root depth are more drought tolerant.
The soil... This culture is quite demanding on soil fertility. Good yields of fodder beets are obtained from chernozem soils. The soil should be slightly acidic or neutral with a pH of 6.2-7.5. When preparing land for planting fodder beets, it is necessary to add compost or rotted manure, as well as wood ash.
Growing conditions... The best precursors for fodder beets are wheat, corn, peas and rye.
But fodder beets are undemanding to light and can give rich yields in areas with low sunlight.
Sowing fodder beets can be produced even at an average soil temperature of +5 ... + 6 ° C. The seeds are planted to a depth of 3-4 cm, with a distance between the rows of 40-45 cm. After sowing, the rows are sprinkled with earth and lightly tamped.It is necessary that the soil in the beds is slightly damp and not crusty.
The first shoots appear in 8-15 days. Seeds germinate at an air temperature of + 3 ... + 5оС, seedlings can withstand frosts down to -2оС. With an early warmth, when the air temperature during the day can reach + 15 ... + 20 ° C, fodder beets can rise 2-3 days after sowing.
Care... For healthy plant growth and a good harvest, beets must be thinned out. The best period for thinning is the appearance of the first two leaves. The optimal density of fodder beets should be no more than 4-5 plants per 1 m, with a distance of 25 cm between them.
Top dressing... This crop is very responsive to fertilization. During the season, it should be fed at least 2 times with special mineral fertilizers. The first feeding is carried out immediately after thinning the seedlings, the second - 20-30 days after the first.
Watering... Fodder beets also require regular watering and weeding. Watering is usually stopped a month before harvesting, during the period of accumulation of dry matter by the root crop.
Harvesting fodder beet
Harvesting the fodder beet must be done before the first frost in order to prevent freezing of the upper part of the root crops. A characteristic sign of the ripening of the root beet is the yellowing of some of the leaves, while new leaves on the plant practically do not grow during this period.
Manual harvesting is usually done by slightly digging in the roots with a pitchfork. For successful and long-term storage, root crops must be carefully cleaned of tops and adhered soil. The harvested crop is sorted so that the wounded root crops are fed to domestic animals in the first place.
The harvest of fodder beets is stored in specially equipped basements or storage facilities with an air temperature of +3 to + 5 ° C.
The most popular varieties of fodder beet
- Foreman - mid-season variety belongs to the polyploid species, the growing season is 108-118 days. Root crops are oval-cylindrical, orange-green in color with a smooth-shiny surface and weighing about 3 kg. The sugar content is high. A distinctive feature of the variety is the preservation of green and juicy tops until the very harvest. Drought-resistant. Seedlings can withstand short-term frosts down to -3 ° С, in adult plants up to -5 ° С. The variety is resistant to flowering. Harvesting can be done both mechanically and manually. Root crops are stored for a long period. Productivity - 150 t / ha.
- Lada - the variety belongs to single-sprout varieties. Root crop of white or pinkish-white color, oval-cylindrical shape with a pointed base, weighing up to 25 kg. The pulp is white, juicy, dense. The submergence of the root crop in the soil is 40-50%. A distinctive feature of this variety is drought resistance and disease resistance during growth and storage. The fruits keep well. Suitable for manual cleaning. Average yield - 120 t / ha.
- F1 Milan - refers to one-sprout semi-sugar type hybrids. The root vegetable is oval, medium in size, white at the bottom and green at the top. Designed for cultivation on all types of soil. Submergence in the soil of the root crop is 60-65%. Harvesting can be done mechanically and manually. The plant is resistant to flowering and cercosporosis. It is characterized by a high dry matter content in the root vegetable. Differs in excellent keeping quality during long-term storage. The yield is 90 t / ha.
- Hope - refers to one-sprout varieties, suitable for growing in the North-West, Middle Volga and Far Eastern regions of Russia. The root crop is oval-cylindrical, red. The pulp is white, juicy. The submergence of the root crop in the soil is 40%. Plant resistance to powdery mildew and cercospora is average. The yield of the variety is high.
- Ursus Poli - multi-sprout semi-sugar variety.The root crop is yellow-orange, cylindrical in shape, weighing up to 6 kg. The pulp is juicy, white. Ripe roots are submerged in the soil by 40%, so they can be easily harvested by hand. Drought-resistant. Good disease resistance, low tendency to bloom. Root vegetables are well preserved until February without losing nutritional value. The growing season is 145 days, the yield of root crops is 125t / ha.
- Centaur Poly - multi-sprout semi-sugar variety. Root crops are white, elongated-oval, weighing 1.2-2.7 kg. The variety is resistant to cercosporosis and shooting. Drought-resistant. Ripe roots are submerged in the soil by 60%, so they can be harvested both mechanically and manually. Root crops are well preserved until May. The growing season is 145 days, the yield is 100-110 t / ha.
Fodder beets are an indispensable component in the diet of many farm animals, stimulating milk production in cows and providing livestock with the necessary energy and vitamins. And the juicy beet tops is an excellent auxiliary source of feed, both fresh and silage. In addition, fodder beet is an excellent precursor for other crops, increasing the productivity of crop rotations.