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Fodder kale

Fodder cabbage (also Fodder kale) is a fodder crop used for green fodder or silage.


Economic importance

Fodder kale is one of the most valuable fodder crops; it is eaten by all animals fresh and ensiled (mixed with roughage) or fed on the vine.

Due to cold resistance (adult plants withstand frosts, according to various sources, from -8 to -15 °C), fodder kale allows you to extend the pasture period by 2-3 weeks, and the period of feeding with green fodder by 1.5-2 months. When grown in seedlings, its crops can move far north or be used for cutting or stubble.

In 100 kg of green mass of fodder kale corresponds to 13-16 feed units and contains 1.8 kg of digestible protein. More complete in terms of protein balance than the green mass of corn or beets. In addition, the green mass contains approximately 60-100 mg% of vitamin C, 80 mg/kg of carotene, B vitamins, and minerals. In terms of nutritional value, it surpasses all fodder root crops.

The norms for giving green mass and silage from fodder kale should not exceed 20-25 kg/day per head for cattle. Exceeding this norm twice leads to the disease of animals with anemia due to the glycosinolates contained in the green mass. Large norms of giving silage have a negative impact on the taste of milk.

In modern economic conditions, fodder kale can play an important role due to its high yield and fodder qualities, with low seed consumption and a high multiplication factor, which is especially important for peasant (farmer) households and the private sector.


Cultural history

Kale originates from the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cultivation areas

Currently distributed in Europe, America, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

The culture of fodder kale was intensively introduced into production during the Soviet era in more than 40 regions and republics.

In Russia, the area of ​​its cultivation, due to the wide variety of morphological and biological types, can extend from the Arctic Circle to the subtropics. The main region of cultivation is the Non-Chernozem zone and the north of the Chernozem zone, the middle Volga region, the Urals and Siberia.



The yield is high. In production experiments in the Nonchernozem zone, which is the main region for the cultivation of fodder cabbage, the yield was 50-80 t/ha of green mass with a dry matter content of 12-14%.

In production, the yield reaches 40-50 t/ha, seeds – 0.8-1.2 t/ha.

Botanical description

Cabbage (Brassica subspontanea Lizg) is a biennial plant of the Cabbage family (Brassicaceae).

In the first year of life, the fodder kale plant forms a rough, cylindrical or spindle-shaped stem, erect, from 30 cm to 2 m high and 3-5 cm thick. Numerous large petiolate succulent leaves with wax-coated plates are placed on the stem. The shape of the leaves is lyre-shaped, ovate-elongated, broadly lanceolate, flat or curly. The stem and leaves are colored green or purple to varying degrees (due to the presence of anthocyanin). Petioles long below, short above.

The root is taproot, thickens in the upper part, branched.

In the second year of life, branched and slightly leafy flower-bearing shoots develop from the buds located in the axils of the leaves of the stem plant. Their height reaches 120-160 cm. The inflorescence is a loose brush 50-80 cm long. The flowers are yellow or whitish. Cross pollination. The fruit is a smooth, cylindrical pod up to 8-10 cm long, does not crack. Seeds are round, smooth, shiny, larger than those of turnip and rutabaga. The color of the seeds is bluish, dark gray or black. The mass of 1000 seeds is from 3 to 6 g.

Unlike table cabbage plants, larger fodder plants have an elongated stem and large leaves that do not roll into a head.


Biological features

Temperature requirements

Seed germination begins at a temperature of 3-6 °C.

Young plants withstand frosts down to -3…-6 °C, adults – up to -8…-10 °C (up to -10…-15 °C). Vegetation continues at temperatures up to +3-5 °C. The optimum temperature is 17-20 °C.

Relatively well tolerates summer heat, but growth slows down. With the onset of cool weather, intensive growth continues, while the increase reaches 1.5-2 t/ha per day.

Moisture requirements

Fodder kale is moisture-loving, but does not tolerate excessive moisture. The lack of moisture leads to a delay in development, however, a well-developed root system helps the plant to endure short-term droughts.

Intensive growth occurs in the autumn period and coincides with rainy weather, which, as a rule, ensures good productivity. In warm and humid years, fodder cabbage gives high yields, while in hot and dry years, the formation of above-ground phytomass slows down, and yields are low.


Soil requirements

All types of soils are suitable for growing fodder cabbage, including strongly podzolic ones. According to the granulometric composition, light loamy and fertilized loamy soils with a high content of organic matter are more preferable.

Strongly acidic soils with a pH less than 4.5 are unsuitable, as plants are severely affected by clubroot.

Floodplain lands, drained and cultivated peatlands are well suited.


In the first year, the growing season is 140-160 days. Feeding to animals during stubble or stubble crops is possible after 70-80 days.

The period from planting stem crops to harvesting seeds, that is, the duration of the second year of vegetation, is 70-130 days.

Crop rotation

It is economically feasible to place a place for sowing fodder kale not far from livestock farms.

In crop rotation, it is placed, as well as rutabaga and turnip, after fertilized winter, annual cereal-bean mixtures for hay and green fodder, legumes, corn for silage, layer or layer turnover of perennial legume grasses of the 1st year of use, potatoes, fodder beet, silage crops.

You can return this culture to its original place no earlier than after 3-6 years.

In crop rotations, fodder kale is not placed after crops of the Cabbage family.

In poke and stubble crops, winter crops for green fodder, early vegetable or other early-harvested annual crops can serve as predecessors. At the same time, the vegetation period of fodder kale should remain at least 85-90 days with an average daily temperature above +5 °C.



With 1 ton of green mass of fodder kale, 2.86 kg of N, 1.0 kg of P2O5, 4.6 kg of K2O and 2.8 kg of CaO are removed from the soil (V.R. Williams All-Russian Research Institute of Feeds).

On soddy-podzolic soils, 30-40 t/ha of manure or compost is applied for this crop for the main autumn tillage , as well as 60-90 kg/ha of a.i. nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium. In general, the recommended fertilizer application rate is N60-90P45-60K45-60. From this rate, 20-25 kg/ha of granulated superphosphate is subtracted, which is applied in the spring when sowing in rows, and 100-150 kg/ha of ammonium nitrate (35-50 kg/ha of nitrogen) for top dressing.

Fertilizer application rates are adjusted taking into account the applied fertilizers for predecessors and soil fertility.

Fodder kale responds to the introduction of boron and molybdenum microfertilizers.



The soil for fodder kale should be loose and fertilized, the field surface should be leveled.

Following the harvesting of the predecessor, peeling is carried out, followed by plowing to the depth of the arable layer (22-30 cm).

In the spring, harrowing, cultivation, leveling of the soil surface are carried out, on the day of sowing – rolling. In wet conditions, on soils floating in the spring, milling is carried out by 16-18 cm or loosening with plows with the mouldboards removed.

Fodder kale responds well to deep pre-sowing loosening of the soil, followed by rolling. Milling promotes earlier emergence of shoots, field emergence and productivity increase in comparison with ploughing.



Seed preparation

Seed preparation consists in dressing and treatment with microfertilizers.

Sowing dates

The timing of sowing fodder kale with the seedless method is the same as for early spring cereals (breads of group I).

Sowing is carried out with vegetable seeders in an inter-row way with a row spacing of 60 or 70 cm.


Seeding methods

Kale can be grown from seeds and seedlings. The seedless method, which is more economical, is more common. However, when growing without seedlings, sites that are clean from weeds should be chosen. The sowing method in this case is wide-row with a row spacing of 60-70 cm. When sowing, the seeds can be mixed with ballast at the rate of 10 kg of fine sieved granular superphosphate per 1 kg of seeds.

Usually, the layout of plants with a seedless method is 70 × 20-30 cm (50-70 thousand/ha of plants) or 60×40 cm (40 thousand / ha of plants), seedlings – 70×25-30 cm.

The seedling method allows you to get higher yields, grow fodder kale in the northern regions by lengthening the growing season, reduce the seeding rate to 60%, simplify the fight against weeds and pests, but the costs are higher and the increase in yield is not always ensured. For planting, 35-40-day-old seedlings with 4-5 leaves are used. The hectare norm of seedlings corresponds to 75-100 m 2 of nursery and 0.6-0.7 kg of seeds. Seedlings are grown in insulated ridges or cold greenhouses. Transplanters are used for planting seedlings.

On clean fields or when using herbicides, sowing can be carried out in a continuous (ordinary ordinary) way without subsequent thinning (SZNIISKh, Leningrad region). At the same time, in such thickened crops, plants form a greater number of leaves and thin stems valuable in terms of fodder.


Seeding rates

The seeding rate is 1.5-4 kg/ha. With a high level of agricultural technology, the rate can be reduced to 1 kg/ha, in this case, thinning of plants is not required.

Seeding depth

The depth of sowing seeds is 1-3 cm.

Crop care

Care for fodder cabbage when sowing in a wide-row method consists in harrowing with light mesh harrows 2-3 days after sowing. When a soil crust is formed, it is destroyed by processing with rotary hoes. Harrowing of seedlings is carried out with heavily thickened crops.

After the emergence of seedlings and after planting seedlings, to control weeds and maintain the soil in a loose state, inter-row loosening begins, the number of which during the growing season is from 2 to 4. Loosening is combined with fertilizing with nitrogen fertilizers.

To form the density of standing fodder cabbage, thinning is carried out. Depending on the density and uniformity of seedlings, for this, transverse harrowing of crops in the phase of 2-4 leaves is used using:

  • with a density of more than 30 plants per 1 m – with a net or light tooth harrow or bunching according to the scheme: a bunch of 20 cm, a cut of 40 cm, followed by harrowing by bouquets with mesh harrows and manual checking;
  • with a density of 20-30 shoots per 1 m – bouquet according to the scheme: cutout 40 cm, bouquet 20 cm or cutout 27 cm, bouquet 18 cm.

Mature plants can be damaged by caterpillars of cabbage whitefish, meadow moth, and winter scoop. To combat these pests, spraying is carried out with a suspension of 80% chlorophos at the rate of 0.8-1.5 kg/ha of a.i.

To control weeds, in addition to inter-row treatments, herbicide treatment is carried out, for example, ramrod in the amount of 4-6 kg/ha a.i., before germination.

Typical pests of fodder cabbage: cruciferous fleas, cabbage moth, rapeseed beetle, cabbage white and fly). Characteristic diseases: clubroot, black leg, gray mold, leaf and pod spot.


Harvesting of fodder cabbage begins in August, but it is advisable to leave it until the beginning of November (sometimes December), since even frozen plants after thawing are well eaten by animals, and other green fodder is no longer available.

Harvesting is carried out with the help of silage harvesters or mowers-choppers. The cutting apparatus of silo combines is equipped with a device that allows cutting stems of any thickness and preventing them from being pierced on the finger beam. When harvesting with chopper mowers, 15-20% of straw, straw cutting, chaff, corn cobs or other dry fodder is added to the silage mass to reduce the loss of dry matter along with the juice. Harvesting with a silage harvester can be performed without shredding the plants, which reduces the loss of dry matter during ensiling.

Uncut fodder cabbage in fresh form is eaten by animals better than chopped.

Growing kale for seeds

Cultivation of fodder cabbage for seeds is similar to seed production of cabbage.

Well-fertilized areas are allocated for mother liquors. 20-30 thousand stem crops are planted per 1 ha under a cultivator, plow or manually. When planting, the stem crops are tilted in one direction along the row spacing, the planting pattern is 70×70 or 70×60 cm.

Care for plantings of uterine cabbage consists in loosening row spacings, tying, pest and disease control, fertilizing and irrigation. Seed plants protect from birds when seeds ripen.

Seed harvesting is carried out in two phases in 2-3 doses. With proper agricultural technology, the seed yield is 0.8-1.2 t/ha.


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.