Growing beet with KWS

This technical newsletter, designed for the beet grower is aimed to help improve beet growing knowledge with seasonal and timely advice on all aspects of growing beet.

The value of high dry matter beets, Harvest and Storage

The predominantly warm and dry months of August & September have been positive for leaf disease with little incidence so far. Nevertheless keep monitoring your beet as favourable weather conditions can quickly increase the infection pressure.

As we move into the autumn, harvesting and beet storage become relevant now.

The value of high dry matter beet

Dry matter (DM %) – is the actual feed material that remains after all moisture has been removed from the feed. Water, which is present in all feeds, does not provide any nutrient or energy and therefore, the higher the dry matter the higher the potential feed value.

In recent years KWS introduced beet especially bred for feeding purposes. Compared to traditional fodder beet varieties, these provide a very high DM content of 23 - 25%. Traditional fodder beet usually has a DM content of 15 - 19%.

Feedbeet table oct 2016

Apart from gaining a higher feed value your production cost per t/DM potentially drops from 38 to 27 per t/DM.

Harvest and Storage

Yield potential

To maximise DM yield, beet is best harvested from mid to late November. This is when root yield has peaked and dry matter yield will be highest.

DM yield development

above: DM yield development, Source: KWS

Weather conditions and beet health

It is important to harvest in good and dry soil conditions to minimise compaction and soil damage and to minimise dirt tare.

Try, where possible, to harvest poorer crops first to allow better crops to continue to grow.


Pre-harvest conditions and harvest quality

The storability of beet is affected by pre-harvest conditions as well as harvest quality. Prior to harvest check for root rots (Aphanomyces, Rhizoctonia, etc.) as they will impact the storage ability of the beet.

Injuries or bruises at harvest will cause losses through increased respiration and also provide numerous sites for fungal invasion.

  • Avoid dropping the beet from height

  • Allow beet to roll, rather than to drop

Clamping fresh beet

Clamp siting, design and construction are important to ensure beet can be stored for as long as possible and without massive deterioration. The key objectives are to prevent losses through the clamp overheating or being affected by extreme cold weather. When building a clamp try to follow the bullet points below for successful storage:

  • Build the clamp on a firm site to enable loading and unloading

  • The clamp should be sited and shaped to allow easy access for grabs and mixer wagons

  • Avoid exceeding a height of 2.5 meters to prevent the beet from overheating

  • Aim for a flatter clamp shape at higher temperatures (less respiration) and a steeper shape when temperatures get low (avoid freezing)

  • Ensure level faces to avoid frost pockets

Clamp coverage

Covering the clamp with a protective sheet (e.g. polyfelt) is required when temperatures of -3C and below are forecasted to prevent the beet freezing. Apart from that a cover keeps the beet dry, which helps to clean the beet.

Any cover used should allow for air circulation, to avoid overheating and condensation.

Aphanomyces cochlioides


  • Foliar: chlorosis (yellowing), wilting

  • Roots: Yellow-brown water soaked lesions on tap roots, which later become brown/necrotic


  • Survival of the fungus in the soil or infected crop debris

  • High soil moisture and soil temperatures of approx. 25C are required for infections


  • Crop rotation: clover can increase disease intensity, non-susceptible maize/potato varieties should be used

  • Soil drainage

Aphanomyces root rot

above: Aphanomyces root rot, Source: KWS

Rhizoctonia solani


  • Foliar: dark brown lesions at base of the petioles, collapsing and forming the characteristic rosette of brown leaves (see picture below)
  • Roots: varying degrees of dark brown/blackish rot, beginning at the crown


  • Survival of the fungus on in the soil or infected crop debris
  • Wet soils and soil temperatures at a minimum of 25C are required for infections


  • Wide crop rotation (3-5 yrs)
  • Weed control as those can act as hosts

FeedBeet October