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Weed control key to beet success

Bayer Crop Science territory manager Jeff Smith has noticed a marked increase in the area committed to fodder beet planting in recent years as more farmers recognise the crop’s ability to offer a high value, high yielding feed option.

Jeff’s lower North Island region is arguably the most varied within the country in terms of the soil types, crops planted and contour. From the dairy country of Taranaki to  arable country of Wairarapa and vegetable production district of Ohakune, fodder beet are now firmly established in the cropping landscape across all districts. Jeff has worked closely with merchants, contractors and farmers, managing fodder beet crops for several years. His knowledge and experience learned has given Jeff insight into critical success factors to growing a high yielding fodder beet crop.

Jeff emphasises that for farmers opting to plant fodder beet their greatest challenge in growing beet crops successfully is weed control. Getting the crop to full canopy cover as soon as possible, where weeds are then actively suppressed is ideal.

As with any agricultural crop the interception of sunlight drives growth and yield. So having the entire planted area covered in photosynthetic leaf for as long as possible will optimise the crop’s potential. Maximising beet leaf area and removing competing weeds during establishment is vital to achieving this.

Jeff’s top tips for growing weed free fodder beet

Jeff comments that beet crop agronomic decisions directly impact this goal. Jeff recommends some top tips to ensure success with a fodder beet. These contribute to reducing weed pressure and easier management of weed control in beet crops. 

The importance of a beet management programme

Herbicide choice, the rate and timing of applications are critical for success. Weather conditions can also “put a spanner in the works” so flexibility is often required.

Jeff recommends a pre- emergent application of Nortron immediately after planting. Nortron will manage and reduce weed pressure through the beet crop germination period. Jeff has found where Nortron has not been used or spray misses have occurred during application that weed pressure is significantly greater which makes post emergence weed control more challenging.  Once the beet crop is established, Jeff is recommending a minimum of two applications of Betanal Quattro, which provide contact knockdown and residual control of weeds.

Quattro’s “4 in 1” combination of spray actives provides an effective and convenient option, reducing tank mixing requirements, reducing chances of mixing errors and saving time.. Jeff has found that 2 applications timed appropriately have provided weed control through to crop closing in. Depending on the weed spectrum present, Betanal Quattro can be tank mixed with other herbicides to control some problematic weeds (eg;thistles).

Finally, Jeff comments that while growing a beet crop can be challenging and requires significant investment, attention to detail and careful management,  farmers will rewarded with a high yielding and high feed value crop. 

Contact Jeff, or get in touch with your local Bayer representative