CROPS WATCH: Early management of beet is key to success

John Mulhare, TerraChem agronomist, is behind on his beet crop. He hasn’t planted a seed and would normally have two herbicides applied to the crop by now. However, when AgriLand visited (April 20) the cover crop was still in the ground.

Beet is a popular topic this year, as farmers begin to plan next year’s fodder supplies and it’s being considered an option by many. John has been planning for this year’s crop since last July, when he applied farmyard manure following winter barley.

He then sowed a cover crop of forage rape to take up nutrients. However, even if you haven’t been planning this far ahead, there are a few key things you can do to produce a high-yielding beet crop.

Maximum growth early

Achieving maximum growth early on in a crop’s development is very important. Herbicides play a key role in this. Using original products, robust rates and adjuvants – which are kind to the crop – all add to increased yield.

This year, John intends to split his first herbicide application. He will apply the products below. However, he will apply just 60% of the rates listed, but will apply them twice – five days apart.

First herbicide application:
  • Debut – 30g/ha;
  • Betenal maxxPro – 0.5L/ha;
  • Venzar Flowable – 0.4L/ha;
  • Goltix – 0.5L/ha;
  • Super Rapeeze (methylated rapeseed oil) – 0.5L/ha (apply oil at full rate at each split).

The second herbicide application will be in one split.

The second herbicide application will contain the following:
  • Betenal maxxPro – 1.5L;
  • Venzar Flowable – 0.4L/ha;
  • Goltix – 1.5L/ha;
  • Super Rapeeze (methylated rapseed oil) – 1.0L/ha.

Cover crop

John sowed a cover crop last July. This crop was grazed by sheep in January and February. It was then sprayed with glyphosate in early April.

“This was necessary – as though the Debut programme is excellent at controlling rape, charlock and many other members of the brassica family – when growing from seed in a beet crop, it is pretty much impossible to control an over-wintered forage rape crop.” John explained.

Soil pH

Soil pH is very important to a beet crop. John explained how low soil pH can be identified very easily in a forage rape crop.

“Where soil pH is low, the fungus that causes club root will thrive. With brassica crops being highly susceptible to the disease, it will quickly become visible in subsequent crops of forage rape. The plants will either show severe signs of stunting or in extremely low pH situations fail to establish at all.”