12 .Sep.2017

Too Wet to sow Fodder Beet?

Some regions have been wet and farmers are concerned they are running out of time to sow fodder beet crops, but there’s no need to panic yet.

The Waikato region has been very wet all winter and farmers have not been able to sow beet crops as early as they would like.  It is true that August is likely to be the optimum time to plant beet in the Waikato to optimise yield, but planting in September/October will still produce crops of high enough yield to be profitable.

The crop above was drilled on 25 August in the Waikato region.

Based on the research DLF conducted in Canterbury (read more), every 10-day delay in sowing results in a mean loss of yield of 1.2 tonnes DM/ha.  If a crop planted in the Waikato in 5 September had a final yield of 30 t DM/ha, a crop planted 15 September would yield 28.8 t, and on 25 September 27.6, and 5 October 26.4, and on 15 October 25.2 t DM/ha. 

The crop planted on 15 October is still going to deliver the farmer feed at about 10 c/kg DM in late autumn.  Even if the crop is grazed in February, the yield is likely to be 18-20 t DM/ha, and provide feed that costs 13 c/kg DM when pasture could be in very short supply.

In summary, don’t worry too much about delays in planting fodder beet, especially in the North Island, as there is plenty of time yet.