Lyndon Harris, CCF/Agrovista agronomist, digs into some recent local trials data to find the best fodder beet varieties for Pembrokeshire farmers.

Crops trials underway at a series of Pembrokeshire farms have produced some important data on how different varieties perform in the local climate.

CCF is embarking on the projects with the help of local farmers because it says results from national trials don’t always reflect how crops will perform in conditions specific to different regions of the UK.

At Pencwm Farm, Moylegrove, beef farmers Berwyn and Hedydd Lloyd are trialling fodder beet and grass mixture varieties and also cereal fungicides and cereal residual herbicides.

Lyndon Harris, CCF/Agrovista agronomist, is overseeing the trials in conjunction with Aldwyn Clarke of ADAS.

Mr Harris says the results from the fodder beet trial provide interesting data on each variety’s best individual qualities.

Highest freshweight yield at 121tonne (t)/hectare (ha) (49t/acre) was achieved by Blaze (LG) while Magnum (DLF) produced the highest dry matter (DM) yield at 23.4t/ha (9.5t/acre).

The most consistent variety was Cagnotte (Elsoms), which Mr Harris describes as a good replacement for Robbos.

Eloquenta (KWS) proved to be the most frost hardy – 95 per cent of the beet is in the ground and at 23.1 per cent it has a high DM percentage.

The lowest dirt tear was achieved by both Blaze (LG) and Jamon (Elsoms) – these had a very smooth finish on the skin and 30 per cent of the beet was in the ground.

The fodder beet was grown in a field previously planted with Hyvido winter barley; crops were sampled for yield on December 20th.

Mr Harris says fodder beet is proving popular with farmers striving for high yields from forage crops.

“Dairy cows milk well off it and it has also proved popular amongst beef and sheep producers,’’ he says.

It can achieve 100t/ha (40t/acre) freshweight yield and, as such, is the highest yielding forage crop suitable for the Pembrokeshire climate, Mr Harris explains.

But there are considerations that need to be taken into account to achieve its potential, he adds.

“It hates weed competition so a stringent herbicide program is critical,’’ he advises.

Beet grows from 3C so growers need to consider how the green leaf is retained through the winter.

Later lifted beet will yield more with the addition of a fungicide.

“It could be in the ground growing from six to 11 months, yet all the fertiliser is applied before drilling meaning longer lasting nitrogen is useful,’’ says Mr Harris.

“The crop requires copious amounts of potash but being from a marine environment we can supply some of this through the cheaper alternative of agricultural salt.’’

Whether the crop is going to be fed straight away or ensiled is another consideration, he adds.

“Consider if it is going to be lifted with a top or bottom lifter, or not lifted at all and grazed. It the latter it will mean choosing a variety with a specific dry matter percentage and depth in the ground,’’ he advises.

Not only is the performance of the varieties important but the approach to utilising it too.

At Eisteddfa Fawr, Brynberian, Dyfed Davies has devised his own techniques for grazing his sheep on fodder beet.

Mr Davies selects a variety with a combination of the highest freshweight yield, the least percentage in the ground and a low DM percentage.

This maximises yield, voluntary intake, crop utilisation and stocking units, says Mr Harris.

But, he adds: “It involves a brave gamble against frost with a variety that may be difficult to harvest should there be a change of plan.’’

For further information on the trial results Mr Harris can be contacted at or 07825 424540.