Production of sugar beets in California has all however disappeared over the previous decade, nevertheless, the crop could supply dairy farmers with another choice for healthy forage. Researchers have actually been evaluating the crop with funding assistance from the California Dairy Research Foundation to identify the best practices for growing on dairy operations.
“The sugar beet yields in California are the greatest in the world. It’s also known that fodder beets and their cousin sugar beets have extremely high dietary value for dairy livestock, it’s been shown in other areas,” stated Steve Kaffka, Extension Professional in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “It seems a natural opportunity for dairy producers to take a look at what would be a new crop for them.”
Growing sugar beets utilizing suggested production practices can offer dairy farmers with another source of dietary forage for dairy cows. Planting beets in mid-to-late fall permits the very best water use effectiveness over winter and also minimizes pest and disease pressures when gathered by the end of June. The crop also has a variety of qualities that bode well for production on dairy farms.
“Where soils have some salt issues or where salts have been constructed up gradually through manure additions on farms, it will endure that quite well,” stated Kaffka. “It’s deep-rooted, so it may be able to use water that’s lost by other crops and likewise some nutrients lost by other crops. So, it could be maybe an excellent nutrient management tool for dairies.”
Sugar beet crops do not typically perform well when they are grown in succession. Kaffka suggests rotating other forage crops in between sugar beets to develop optimum growing conditions. “I believe an excellent rotation would be beets in the winter season, followed by corn silage, followed by perhaps cereal silage, followed by corn silage, then beets once again. That might work out quite well,” said Kaffka.