Beet varieties: There is plenty of choice for farmers

Beet can be a great alternative to concentrate and remains a popular feed in many parts of the country.

The area of the energy crop planted has stayed the same in the past two years at 9,400ha. The high-energy crop looks more attractive to grow as farmers increasingly travel to land away from their main block for forage crops.

Fodder beet remains a common choice and while sugar beet may have a lower fresh yield than fodder beet, it has a higher dry matter yield.

Sugar beet has many advantages. It tends to establish better with higher plant counts and, while it generally does need to be washed, it is a high-energy and high-quality feed with a high sugar content.

Tarmina was the variety of choice at the Goldcrop open day in Ballinacrusha, Cobh, Co. Cork.

A white variety with good root development, Tarmina has the same fresh yields as the popular fodder variety, Magnum. It also has a similar sugar content to Rosalinda (sugar beet). Tarmina has a high dry matter content at approximately 23.5%.

Rosalinda, a sugar beet, has proven popular with farmers over the years. The reliable variety – which is 75% sugar – also has upright leaves which make it easier to harvest (a trait more common in sugar than fodder).

Beet Rosalinda
Rosalinda has upright stalks which make it easier to harvest

Rosalinda accounts for a large amount of the sugar beet grown in Ireland at the minute and will no doubt prove popular again next year but Tarmina looks like it could be a good alternative.

On the fodder front Enermax is still the highest yielding fodder variety on the list. The white sugar variety has a dry matter content of 19.6%.

Bangor, which was introduced by DLF Seeds in 2017, has a high fresh yield, while its dry matter is approximately 17.6%.

Viridis is a new fodder variety from Goldcrop. Viridis comes in between Magnum and Enermax for yield with a dry matter content of 19.8%. Seed is slightly less expensive than other varieties and leaves are quiet floppy.

Viridis leaves tend to be broad and quiet floppy

Jamon and Blaze are the two main vaieties for grazing crops in situ. Beet used for grazing should have a high percentage of the root over the ground.