Potentially the highest yielding forage crop, Fodder Beet is undergoing a revival. It is a crop that farmers forced out of sugar beet can easily grow and sell to livestock farmers. Nutritionists value the high sugar content and digestible fibre of beet which complements dairy and beef rations, especially those using high proportion of cereals and maize.
There is also a trend towards grazing the lower DM% types in situ. Fodder Beet, subject to certain limitations, can provide grazing for sheep or cattle throughout the winter. With the correct management, it can easier to establish and manage than Kale or Swedes with about twice the yield – but it needs be planted 6-8 weeks earlier!
Following recent hard winters, some farmers are growing very high dry matter varieties or even Sugar Beet because of the better keeping quality.
The table below lists some of the leading varieties, and their potential uses.