Beet is a high energy feed with a potential to deliver high yields and excellent animal performance.

A livestock farmers aim is to grow or purchase the cheapest and highest quality fodder/concentrate that will give maximum performance across all categories of stock.

From the ruminant animals’ point of view, beet is one of the safest and most advantageous feeds for beef production. It is one of the cheapest energy sources per tonne dry matter that can be grown on Irish farms.

Beet is a highly palatable, highly digestible feed and an excellent source of sugar energy. It can be fed as a straight feed or as part of a mixed forage diet.

When correctly balanced, with protein, mineral and vitamins and fibre, improved performance is guaranteed from beet. There is a variation in dry matters between the different varieties of beet.

The higher the dry matter content of the beet, the greater the energy levels and the greater the response from the animals. Beef finishing cattle can be fed anything up to 25kg/head/day of beet once a good source of long fibre is provided in the diet.

When feeding these rates, the beet should be introduced gradually. The need for expensive concentrate for youngstock can be greatly reduced when beet is fed. A 300-400kg growing animal should receive 10kg of beet.

Beet should be mature at harvest and well crowned at the leaf scar. Allow 1 square metre of hard surface (Preferably a long narrow slab of concrete) per tonne of beet. Do not cover for 2-3weeks post-harvest if frost is not forecast. If you have to cover in the 1st 3 weeks, remove covers during day to prevent heating.  Ventilation is important to prevent rotting so best store roots in long-low clamp.

Dry Matter Yield 13-20 tonne/hectare
Fresh Yield 70-110t/ha
Dry Matter 12-20%
Crude Protein 6-8%
ME(MJ/kgDM) 13.5

Depending on variety and harvest conditions beet typically has a clay tear of 4-10pc. If fed, beet with high clay content can lead to reduced performance and digestive upsets. Ideally, clay should be removed by washing or a combination of cleaner loading and dry brushing.


Should only be grown after 2years have elapsed since a beet, brassica or oilseed rape crop was grown.

Can be sown from early April along coast. Sow from mid-April more inland and up until mid-May to achieve optimum yields. Each week of delay after mid-April will result in a 4% loss in yield/week.

Beet is very sensitive to p.H and needs to be in the range of 6.7 to 7.

As shown in the table below:

Soil Index 1 2 3 4
Nitrogen 195kg/ha 155kg/ha 120kg/ha 80kg/ha
Phosphorus 70kg/ha 55kg/ha 40kg/ha 20kg/ha
Potash & Sodium 320kg/ha 240kg/ha 160kg/ha 80kg/ha

Boron should be applied to all beet crops. Choose a compound fertilizer with boron and apply before sowing and mix into soil. Nitrogen topdressing can be applied at 4-8 leaf stage. Low boron soils may need a further foliar boron application in June/July.

Manganese and Magnesium will need treatment if soil levels are low, foliar applications are best at 4-10 leaf stage.

Poor weed control is the most common cause of crop failure. Beet is a poor competitor with weeds. The aim is to keep the crop weed free until at least eight weeks after emergence. There are a range of herbicides available and two applications will be required in most crops. Very early sown crops may require a third application. Each application usually includes at least two herbicides and possibly an adjuvant. Herbicide choice, rate of application and timing are critical and it is recommended to get advice from an experienced agronomist.

Ramularia Leafspot and Rust are the main problems and usually occur in the autumn. They can result in severe defoliation which will increase harvesting losses with belt lifting harvesters. Crops to be harvested after Nov 1st should be treated with a fungicide in late July or early August. For crops to be harvested in October, treatment is justified when disease symptoms are seen before August 1st. opera is now the leading fungicide in beet.