Home » Horticulture » Fodder beet

Fodder beet

Fodder beet (Beta vulgaris L. v. crassa) is a fodder crop belongs to the group of fodder root crops.

Fodder beet (Beta vulgaris L. v. crassa)
Fodder beet (Beta vulgaris L. v. crassa)
Source: flickr.com
©stanze (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Economic importance

Fodder beet has good fodder qualities: it is eaten by all farm animals, it is easily digestible, it surpasses silage.

The culture is well stored, used for feeding livestock during the stall period. Without fodder beets, it is difficult to achieve milk yields of 4000-5000 kg of milk per year from one cow.

100 kg of fodder beet roots correspond to 15 feed units and contain 0.9 kg of digestible protein, 61 g of calcium and 60 g of phosphorus. There are 60 g of digestible protein per 1 feed unit.

For fodder purposes, tops are also used, the yield of which is 20-40% of the mass of root crops. For feed it is used fresh, dried and ensiled. 100 kg of fresh tops corresponds to 10 feed units and contains 1.2 kg of digestible protein, 230 g of calcium, 43 g of phosphorus, 2.0-6.4 g of carotene. 1 feed unit of haulm contains 120 g of digestible protein.

Cultural history

The plant was first introduced into cultivation in the Mediterranean. In the XI century. spread in Russia.

Cultivation areas

Fodder beets are cultivated throughout Russia. It accounts for 90% of the total area occupied by fodder root crops.

Due to the rapid development with long daylight hours, fodder beet crops have moved further north than sugar beet.

Botanical description

The fodder beet (Beta vulgaris L. v. crassa) belongs to the same Chenopodiaceae family as the sugar beet. According to morphological and biological features, these cultures are very similar.

The subcotyledon of fodder beet is distinguished by a greater variety of colors than that of sugar beet, it can be white-green, yellow, pink, carmine, orange and purple.


The epicotyl (head) and hypocotyl (neck) play an important role in the formation of fodder beet roots. In different varieties, they account for 25-65% of the mass of the root crop, while the root itself is relatively poorly developed. The root penetrates the soil to a depth of 1.5-2.0 m.

The differences between fodder and sugar beet root crops are reduced to a variety of shape, color of the head, neck and root itself, as well as penetration into the soil. The development of the aerial part of the root (head, neck) and penetration into the soil determine the drought resistance of the variety and the dry matter content in the root crops. The more developed the aerial part of the root, the more moisture-loving the variety is and contains less dry matter. By color, root crops are distinguished by white, pink, raspberry, red, yellow and orange flowers.

According to the anatomical structure, the roots of sugar and fodder beets also differ. Fodder beet has fewer rings of vascular-fibrous bundles, which can be 5-8 pieces, larger parenchyma cells with a lower sugar content are located between the rings.

Aboveground part

The leaves of fodder beet are heart-shaped ovoid, large, with developed petioles, smoother and more lofty than those of sugar beet, their number is 20-30% less.

Seed plants of fodder beet crumble much less compared to sugar beet.

In the second year of life, the leaves are smaller. The stem is ribbed, powerful, branching, erect or oblique, slightly leafy, 150 cm high. Inflorescences are spicate whorled racemes. Cross pollination.

The flowers are bisexual, quintuple type, greenish with a reddish or yellowish tint, 2-4 flowers in whorls.

The fruit is a dry nutlet, when fused, it forms infructescences (balls) of 2-6 fruits. Weight of 1000 glomeruli 20-30 g.

In the same way as in sugar beet, in the first year of life, three periods of growth and development are distinguished.


According to the form of root crops, fodder beet is divided into varieties:

  • with a bag-shaped or cylindrical shape;
  • elongated oval shape;
  • conical shape;
  • round shape.

Varieties of bag-shaped (cylindrical) form of the root crop have a developed neck, immersed in the soil by 20-25% of the length of the root crop. Thanks to shallow immersion, manual cleaning is facilitated. They differ in increased requirements for moisture due to an underdeveloped root system. The foliage is small (18-20%), the dry matter content is 10-13%. Varieties of this variety are common in production.

Varieties with an elongated-oval shape of the root crop are immersed in the soil by 30-35% of the length, while maintaining the ease of pulling out of the soil. The color of the roots is orange or light yellow, the flesh is white or yellowish. The content of dry matter in root crops is 12-15%. Varieties of this variety are common in production. Moisture demanding.

Varieties of cylindrical and elongated root crops are more common in the Non-Chernozem and the north of the Central Chernozem zones.

Varieties with a conical shape of the root crop are predominantly semi-sugar. Dry matter content 13-19%. Root crops are immersed in the soil at half the length. They are distinguished by a higher collection of dry matter per unit area. Can be cultivated using a set of machines for sugar beet. There are single-seeded varieties in the group.

Round-shaped varieties develop most of the root crop above the soil surface. The content of dry matter in root crops is 15-17%.

Biological features

Temperature requirements

Seeds of fodder beet begin to germinate at a temperature of 2-5 °C. Viable seedlings appear at 6-7 °C. However, uniform seedlings occur at 12-15 °C.

Shoots withstand frosts down to -4…-5 °С (according to other sources, for a short time up to -1…-3 °С and -2…-4 °С). The leaves of adult plants are able to withstand short-term morning frosts down to -6 °C (according to other sources, for a short time down to -3…-4 °C). At the same time, root crops dug out of the soil and uncovered can be damaged by frosts of -2 °C, becoming unsuitable for storage.

The optimum temperature for the growth of leaves and roots is 15-20 °C. Growth stops at an average daily temperature of 6 °C in autumn.

The minimum sum of active temperatures is 1500-2400 °C during the growing season.

Moisture requirements

Fodder beet is a moisture-loving plant. Prefers a warm humid climate. The amount of atmospheric precipitation per year must be at least 400 mm. Withstands short droughts.

Light requirements

Fodder beet belongs to light-loving agricultural crops with long daylight hours.

Soil requirements

Feed beet makes high demands on soil fertility. Chernozem soils with loose subsoil, loamy and sandy loamy soils with a high content of organic matter are optimal.

It grows poorly on poor acidic and marshy soils. Optimal acidity pH 6-7.


The vegetation period of fodder beet in the first year of life is 125-150 days, in the second – 100-130 days.

In the first year, it forms a root crop and a rosette of leaves. In the second year after the high, stems, leaves, inflorescences and seeds are formed in the form of glomeruli.

Crop rotation

Fodder beet is usually grown in farm rotations, due to the small distance from the farm, it is possible to apply organic fertilizers to the soil and reduce the cost of transporting the crop.

The best predecessors of fodder beet in fodder crop rotations are early harvested crops, for example, winter rye for green fodder, annual grasses for hay or green fodder, perennial grasses of the 1st year of use, leguminous, vegetables, corn, potatoes. When using perennial grasses for more than one year, fodder beets are sown along the turnover of the formation.

Good results are shown by the placement of fodder beets on floodplain lands in vegetable crop rotations.

In field crop rotations, fertilized winter cereals, annual grasses, early potatoes, perennial grasses (preferably the 1st year of use) can be predecessors.

Fodder beet is a good precursor for spring cereals, annual grasses and silage crops.


With 1 ton of root crops and the corresponding amount of fodder beet tops, 2.5-3.5 kg N is removed from the soil; 0.9-1.2 kg P2O5, 4.5-5 kg ​​K2O, 3 kg CaO. Fodder beet needs, first of all, nitrogen and potash fertilizers. However, an excess of nitrogen fertilizers leads to the accumulation of nitrates in the dry matter of root crops over 0.5% (in terms of KNO3), which can cause animal poisoning.

The introduction of organic fertilizers in the amount of 20-40 t/ha directly under the fodder beet is required on light sandy loamy and weakly structured soils (All-Russian Research Institute of Forage named after V.R. Williams). The simultaneous application of manure and mineral fertilizers increases the yield of root crops by 30%.

Acidic soils are lime.

Basic fertilizer

The effectiveness of fertilizers depends on the timing and methods of application. Manure, phosphorus and potash fertilizers are applied in the fall for autumn tillage, with the exception of light soils, on which phosphorus and potassium are applied in the spring for pre-sowing cultivation. Nitrogen fertilizers are usually applied in the spring before sowing in the amount of N100-120, on chernozems – N30, gray forest – N90-120.

The application rate of organic fertilizers is up to 60 t/ha.

Recommended application rates of basic fertilizers in the area of ​​sufficient moisture: P2O5 – 60-80 kg/ha, K2O – 100-120 kg/ha. On drained peatlands, K2O – 140-180 kg/ha.

Under irrigation conditions in the central regions of the Nonchernozem zone, it is recommended to apply 150 kg/ha N, 100 kg/ha P2O5, 240 kg/ha K2O (V.R. Williams All-Russian Research Institute of Feeds).

In the experiments of the Tambov Regional Experimental Station, the application of 90 kg/ha N, 120 kg/ha P2O5 and 90 kg/ha K2O made it possible to obtain an increase in fodder beet yield without irrigation of 15.5 t/ha of root crops with a yield without fertilizers of 53, 7 t/ha. Under irrigation (three irrigations of 600 m3/ha), the optimal rates of application of mineral fertilizers were 270 kg/ha N, 360 kg/ha P2O5 and 270 kg/ha K2O.

On chernozems, 30-40 t/ha of manure, P120K90, are applied.

Row fertilizer

The recommended application rates for row fertilizers for the Non-Chernozem Zone N are 20 kg/ha, P2O5 – 20 kg/ha, K2O – 20 kg/ha. Compound fertilizers are better suited , for example, nitrophoska or nitroammofoska. The application dose of nitrophoska is 1.5, nitroammophoska is 1 centner/ha.

For the Central Black Earth Zone, the recommended norms are the same as for sugar beet – N10P20K10.

Top dressing

Top dressing is carried out after bunching, along-row thinning or after the second harrowing on seedlings.

When an insufficient amount of fertilizer is applied in the fall and the soil is well moistened, a second top dressing is carried out. It is performed until the rows close.

The fertilizer application rate for top dressing is 30 kg/ha N, 20 kg/ha P2O5 and 40 kg/ha K2O.

Fertilizers are applied using row cultivators with simultaneous processing of row spacing.


Fodder beets, especially semi-sugar varieties, place high demands on the quality of tillage. It is responsive to deep plowing with loosening of the subsurface horizon. Soil cultivation for this crop should provide optimal water, air, thermal and nutrient regimes of the soil, as well as a sufficient volume of the arable layer for the development of the root crop, effective agrotechnical control of weeds, pests and diseases.

The tillage system for fodder beet includes autumn autumn and spring pre-sowing tillage.

Basic tillage

In the main beet-growing regions (where fodder beet is also grown), the main tillage system in the summer-spring period is carried out according to the semi-fallow type.

When cultivating in conditions of a long and warm summer-autumn period, the following is carried out:

  • after harvesting winter crops 2-3 plowing the soil to a depth of 6-9 cm with disc cultivators, for example, ЛД-20, ЛДГ-5, ЛДГ-10, ЛДГ-15;
  • after 10-15 days – repeated peeling with share cultivators ППЛ-10-25;
  • after the germination of weeds, plowing is carried out.

In the short autumn period they carry out:

  • soil plowing with disc cultivators;
  • after 15-20 days – autumn plowing to a depth of 25-30 cm or to the depth of the arable layer.

Peeling can be omitted after tilled by the predecessor on fields that are free from weeds.

On soils with a small thickness of the arable horizon, ridges are cut to increase the root layer. Beets are sown on ridges with a row spacing of 60 and 70 cm (Osmakov, 1962; Sinyakova, 1967).

On heavy and floating soils, deep plow processing with removed mouldboards or milling is carried out.

Pre-sowing treatment

On loose structural soils, harrowing is carried out in early spring to preserve moisture. Then, depending on weather conditions, 1-2 cultivations are carried out to a depth of 2-3 cm more than the depth of sowing seeds, that is, on light soils – by 5-7 cm, on bound soils – 4-6 cm.

In cold, prolonged spring and overgrowing of the field with weeds, the first cultivation on heavy loamy and compacted soils is carried out 3-5 days after the moisture is closed by 8-10 cm with simultaneous harrowing, the second pre-sowing cultivation is carried out by 4-6 cm.

A prerequisite for pre-sowing soil preparation is the leveling and compaction of the upper layer with the help of harrows, rollers, levelers.

Presowing rolling is carried out to obtain uniform seedlings, especially in dry spring. Loamy soils of high humidity do not roll, as this leads to strong compaction.

If necessary, they are treated with the same herbicides as those recommended for growing sugar beet.


Seed preparation

Preparation of fodder beet seeds includes calibration for fractions: 3.5-4.5 and 4.5-5.5 mm for the possibility of using precision seeders.

Seed germination of diploid and triploid fodder beets must be at least 60%.

Dressing is carried out with 65% fentiuram at the rate of 4 kg of the drug per 1 ton of seeds or 80% TMTD, 5-6 kg/t of seeds. As for sugar beet, it is recommended to carry out grinding, dragging, soaking, segmenting fodder beet seeds in order to accelerate the emergence of seedlings, obtain strong seedlings, and evenly distribute seeds in rows.

Sowing dates

Sowing dates are the same as when growing sugar beets.

Sowing can be carried out in the early and middle periods when the soil warms up to 6-7 °C.

Seeding methods

Fodder beet is sown in a wide-row way with a row spacing of 45, 60 and 70 cm. Pelleted and one-seeded seeds are dotted.

Sowing is carried out using beet precision seeders, for example, ССТ-8А, ССТ-12А, ССТ-12Б, or vegetable – СКОН-4.2, СО-4.2, СОН-2.8A, or СУПН-8.

Seeding rates

The seeding rate of multi-seeded varieties is 8-16 kg/ha of seeds.

For the dotted method of sowing single-seeded varieties – 3-4 kg/ha.

Seeding depth

The sowing depth is the same as when growing sugar beets (3-4 cm).

It is also recommended for multi-seeded beets sowing depth of 2-4 cm, single-seeded – 1.5-3 cm.

Seedling growing method

The seedling method of growing fodder beets is used in heavily weedy areas in intermediate crops during irrigation. The technology was tested in 1979-1980. Donetsk Regional Agricultural Experimental Station and showed high performance. The seedling method of growing eliminates the need for thinning seedlings, facilitates the fight against weeds, while the yield increases by 7-8 t/ha.

Fodder beet seedlings are grown on ridges or without them. Sowing is carried out in the early stages in a continuous way. Seedling selection, sorting, root pinching, leaf picking are performed manually in the 4-5 leaf phase. Planting of seedlings is carried out by transplanting machine СКН-6А, row spacing is 60 or 70 cm.

1 ha of a nursery allows you to get seedlings for 10-12 ha. 4-5 plants are planted per 1 m of row.

Crop care

Caring for fodder beet crops did not differ much from caring for sugar beet crops (see the article Сultivation of sugar beets).

Fodder beets are cultivated more sparsely, leaving 80-90 thousand/ha of plants when breaking through, so by the time the root crops are harvested, the standing density is 65-80 thousand/ha of plants. The optimal standing density is considered to be 60-90 thousand/ha of plants.

After sowing, pre-emergence and post-emergence harrowing is carried out in the phase of the first pair of true leaves to destroy the soil crust, control weeds and thin out dense seedlings.

The formation of the standing density of fodder beet plants is carried out at the beginning of the formation of the second pair of true leaves. The bouquet scheme is determined by the density and distribution of plants in rows. With a row spacing of 45 cm, plants are left in rows after 20-25 cm, with a width of 60 cm – after 18-20 cm.

Depending on the contamination of crops and the formation of a soil crust, 3-4 inter-row cultivations are carried out during the spring-summer period.

In fodder beet crops, the same herbicides are used as in sugar beet crops.

Cultivation under irrigation

Under irrigation conditions with sufficient food supply, fodder beet yields can reach 150 t/ha.

The need for fodder beet in water in different periods of development is different:

  • in the first period, that is, within 1.5-2 months after sowing, the root system and leaf surface develop, the need for water during this period is 20-25% of the total;
  • in the second period, that is, in July – August, intensive growth of the root and leaf surface begins, the need for water is 60-65% of the total;
  • in the third period (September – October), there is an accumulation of dry matter, moisture consumption during this period is minimal.

Irrigation of fodder beet is carried out taking into account the need in the corresponding period of development, weather conditions and the moisture reserve in the soil.

Optimum soil moisture should be maintained at a level of at least 70-80% of the lowest moisture capacity, especially during the formation of root crops.

The first vegetation irrigation is carried out during the active growth of the assimilation surface, the rest – as needed. Irrigation rate 600-700 m3/ha. In the zone of insufficient moisture, the number of irrigations is 4-5, unstable moisture – 3-4, in the zone of sufficient moisture – at least 3 vegetation irrigations. After irrigation, deep inter-row loosening of the soil is carried out.

Irrigation methods: furrow or sprinkling. Furrow irrigation makes it possible to distribute water more evenly and moisten the soil, while maintaining the soil structure, reducing water losses due to evaporation from the soil surface, however, labor costs with this method are higher due to the need for field planning, cutting and leveling of irrigation furrows. Sprinkler irrigation is mechanized, carried out by sprinkler units, for example, ДДА-100МА, ДДН-100, ДДН-70, however, it leads to greater soil compaction.


Harvesting of fodder beet is started when the leaves turn yellow before the onset of frost. Early harvesting is associated with a lack of mass of root crops, since the increase in their mass ends in autumn.

Beet leaves are cut by КИР-1,5Б, УБД-ЗА, БМ-4 or БМ-6А. The height of the medium is set in such a way that the length of the petioles is 2-5 cm. However, the use of mechanized removal of the tops is often associated with cutting off some of the root crops of the head, sometimes the neck, or, conversely, leaving leaf petioles 5-8 cm long. According to production experiments, conducted by All-Russian Research Institute of Fodder them. V.R. Williams and state farms. Telman and “Podmoskovny” (Moscow region), the remaining petioles do not affect the storage of root crops in heaps or storages.

For digging and harvesting root crops, potato diggers or converted potato harvesters can be used. In the first case, manual selection of root crops is required. Root crops are sorted out before being stored for storage, cut and broken are rejected.

For harvesting, a forage root crop digger (semi-mounted two-row screening) of the ККГ-1.4 brand can be used, which is designed for harvesting roots of semi-sugar and fodder beets, turnips , rutabaga . When using it, the leaves are first removed by haulm harvesters; root crops are continuously loaded into a nearby transport. The productivity of the digger is 0.3-0.5 ha/h.

For harvesting, a converted СКД-2К combine can also be used, for semi-sugar varieties and varieties of the Barres type – a root harvester КС-6 (Lithuanian Research Institute of Agriculture).


The main task in beet storage is to reduce nutrient losses, prevent leaf regrowth and rot development. Healthy, undamaged and unshriveled root crops are suitable for storage. It is not allowed to bookmark frozen root crops for long-term storage.

It is economically expedient to place storages or heaps of fodder root crops near livestock farms. Thus, the cost of transporting root crops is reduced, the cost of feed and, accordingly, livestock products is reduced.

Root crops, in the absence of permanent, equipped storage facilities, can be stored in heaps. Their size should be 3 m wide, 2 m high and up to 30 m long. Root crops are better preserved when installing top and bottom ventilation. To do this, a pipe or a bundle of brushwood is installed at the top of the collar (upper ventilation), and a longitudinal groove is arranged at the bottom (lower ventilation). The piles are covered from above with a layer of earth 10-30 cm thick along the ridge, at the base – 20-50 cm, then they are covered with straw 20-50 cm thick. When negative temperatures occur, the piles are additionally insulated with a layer of earth, increasing the thickness along the ridge by 10-15 cm , at the base – by 10-20 cm. It is not recommended to immediately cover the piles with straw, since evaporating moisture saturates the straw, which leads to rapid decay. The thickness of the earth and straw is calculated taking into account the winter freezing of the soil.

To protect the collars from the northern winds, they are located in the direction from the southwest to the northeast or from the north to the south.

Storage temperature 0-3 °С.

Growing fodder beets for seeds

Culture of uterine fodder beet

In contrast to sugar beet, fodder yields much more wet weight. This feature is taken into account when growing mother beets: queen cells should not be large, otherwise they are not suitable for mechanized planting by planters. For example, the uterine root crop of the Eckendorf yellow variety should be no more than 8 cm in diameter.

Of great importance in the culture of uterine fodder beet is the plant density, which should be at least 160-180 thousand / ha of plants, on fertile soils with a sufficient supply of moisture – up to 200-220 thousand / ha of plants. The optimal time for sowing mother beets in the zone of sufficient moisture is June, in the zone of unstable moisture – May (V.R. Williams All-Russian Research Institute of Forage). The yield of seeds at late sowing periods increases by 0.14-0.28 t/ha.

To reduce the cost of manual labor when caring for crops of mother fodder beet, they try to reduce seeding rates, carry out pre-emergence and post-emergence harrowing, and use longitudinal thinners. Unlike sugar beets, 2-3 plants located side by side do not produce twisted roots and have a normal planting weight.

P 60-100 K 80-120 is applied under the mother beet culture for normal winter storage . Nitrogen fertilizers are limited.

The output of suitable root crops from 1 hectare of uterine sowing should be at least 4-5 hectares of testes.

The dug out uterine root crops should be immediately delivered to heaps or stored in storage, since dried root crops are poorly stored, the proportion of “stubborn” is increasing.

Testis culture

The root system of the seed plants differs from the root system of the mother beet in that it is shallow, and the water and nutrient intake comes mainly from the topsoil. The seed plants have a large evaporating surface and intensively consume water for evaporation.

In the crop rotation, the best place is chosen for fodder beet seedlings: winter crops – for grain or green fodder, annual grasses – for green fodder and hay.

In the spring, fall plowing or deep cultivation with harrowing is carried out.

Since beet seed plants remove a large amount of nutrients from the soil, 300-330 kg/ha of a.i. is applied to obtain a seed yield of 2.5-2.8 t/ha. mineral fertilizers. Fertilizers are applied to the main reception and top dressing. Since the root system of the seed plants is characterized by a small assimilation capacity, fertilizers must be applied in a form that is easily accessible to plants.

Planting pattern 60×60 cm or 70×50 cm.

Harvesting fodder beet seeds is similar to harvesting sugar beet seeds.

No-drop method

In the south of Russia, fodder beet seeds can be obtained by a non-planting method, which eliminates the stages of harvesting, winter storage of queen cells and spring planting in the soil. Seeds in this way ripen more evenly 8-10 days earlier. The cost of seed production by the non-planting method is 2-2.5 times lower.


Crop production / P.P. Vavilov, V.V. Gritsenko, V.S. Kuznetsov and others; Ed. P.P. Vavilov. – 5th ed., revised. and additional – M.: Agropromizdat, 1986. – 512 p.: ill. – (Textbook and textbooks for higher educational institutions).

V.V. Kolomeichenko. Crop production / Textbook. — M.: Agrobusinesscenter, 2007. — 600 p. ISBN 978-5-902792-11-6.

Fundamentals of agricultural production technology. Agriculture and crop production. Ed. V.S. Niklyaev. – M .: “Epic”, 2000. – 555 p.