Beets are grown around the world as fodder for livestock. Grow them in small quantities to supplement a hobby farm or in larger quantities to sell to local farmers. Sugar, kyros and magnum beets are some beet varieties that are grown for fodder. For the best results, alternate the crop locations every three years so the soil can recover and there is less change of beet-specific diseases and pests in the soil.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Beet seeds
Prepare the soil for planting by tilling it and taking a soil sample to the local agricultural centre for testing. Fodder beets do best in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter, has plenty of lime and a pH of 6.5 Amend the soil to meet these requirements. Add some sand to increasing draining properties, compost or well-rotted manure for fertiliser and lime to increase the pH to 6.5. Mix the amendments in with a tiller.
Plant seeds in May or June in the northern states for beets that mature in the fall or early winter. Sew the seeds 1 inch apart in rows that are 1 foot apart. Cover the seeds with 1/2 to 1 inch of soil.
Water the beets immediately after planting and at least weekly during their growth. Beets that get too dry will become thin and stringy. Aim for 1 inch of water per week but water more frequently during dry spells.
Weed the beets regularly by hand pulling weeds when they first appear. Beets do not compete well with weeds so it is important to pull the weeds to ensure the beets get as much water and nutrients as possible. Frequent weeding makes the task easier to manage.
Thin beets when the first crop is two to three inches wide. Pull them out and use both the greens and beets. This leaves more room for the remaining beets to grow. Try pulling out every second beet to leave plenty of space. Harvest the remaining beets when they are three to five inches wide. Cut off their tops to prepare them for storage.
Store beets in a cool, moist location, like a root cellar, for up to fuve months. Keep the temperature just above freezing and the humidity at 90 per cent.
Tips and warnings
- For a larger crop, sow beet seeds every 10 to 14 days until you have three or four crops growing. This allows for a continuous supply of beets.
- Fodder beets are best planted a little later in the season so they are still fresh when the livestock needs them.
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