New LG fodder beet varieties raise the benchmark
New LG fodder beet varieties raise the benchmark. And add more feed value from home grown forage

New trial data from Limagrain UK, published in January 2023, shows that new fodder beet varieties are raising the benchmark for dry matter yields. But another highlight is the crop’s ability to produce consistently high yields in varying seasonal growing conditions seen in the UK in recent years.

Dedicated UK Fodder Beet Trials

Limagrain UK has run fodder beet trials on its Lincolnshire site since 2008 and compared the performance of commercially available varieties of fodder beet.

“We’ve seen significant improvements in dry matter yields in the past decade, particularly among newer varieties,” says Limagrain UK’s forage crops product manager John Spence. “These fodder beet varieties are raising the benchmark and achieving record yields. They offer a consistently high energy and dry matter home-grown forage for livestock diets.”

In the latest ranking, the new fodder beet variety Fosyma has an average dry matter yield of 14% above the control variety Magnum, equivalent to more than 2.5t DM/ha.

Fosyma has 21.3% dry matter, and it is one of only a few varieties which are rhizomania tolerant. Fosyma also has good resistance to powdery mildew, rust and leaf spot,” adds Mr Spence.

Fosyma has other proven benefits that add to its appeal. “Its high dry matter is combined with its medium-depth root. We usually associate high dry matter fodder beets with deep rooted varieties, so Fosyma, with a relatively high proportion (35%) sitting out of the ground, bucks the trend. This makes it suitable for grazing in situ as well as for lifting and it carries less risk of soil contamination than the deeper-rooted varieties.”

Fosyma-Fodder-Beet-1080x800pxAnother key advantage of Fosyma is its high tolerance to bolting. It is one of the least likely varieties of fodder beet to bolt. This is particularly beneficial in more extreme seasons, such as the cold spring in 2022, followed by warm weather which can encourage bolting.

Fosyma has been included in the trials since 2019 and has been available to UK growers for the past two years.

High yielding and rhizomania tolerant variety Brick is in second place with a dry matter yield 9% above the control and a dry matter content of 22.8%. It is slightly deeper rooted than Fosyma with 25% of the root out of the ground. These characteristics give the variety excellent winter hardiness.

Reliable Robbos

A more established variety that has held its popularity in livestock diets is Robbos due to its flexibility, combined with high yields. With only 60% of the root in the ground, it is ideal for grazing sheep and cattle, and among shallower-rooted varieties, it offers a high dry matter content of 19.8%. Robbos has been included in the Limagrain UK annual trials since they started in 2008 and it gives consistent and reliable results.

“Fodder beet is really showing its colours as a consistent and reliable livestock feed,” adds Mr Spence. “We see very little variation in yields within a variety between cold, wet or dry seasons.

Sheep strip grazing LG Robbos Fodder Beet“Even after the dry summer of 2022, the crops still produced outstanding yields, and this was even more pronounced among the newer varieties, such as Fosyma, which maintained yields achieved in the previous year and well above 20t DM/ha.”

“So, for the same growing costs, farmers can produce significantly more dry matter per hectare by opting for the higher yielding fodder beet varieties.”

Sown in April, fodder beet is harvested from October onwards and can be fed in a total mixed ration or ad lib with maize silage, or it can be grazed in situ.

Limagrain UK publishes its annual trial data, available to all growers to enable them to make informed decisions. There are no recommended lists for fodder beet.

Limagrain UK’s latest fodder beet trial results are available here

Fuel from fodder beet supports cow performance

Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Roger James relies on a high energy diet in early lactation to keep his 300-cow cross bred dairy herd in good body condition and able to support milk production and high fertility levels in a trouble-free fashion.


He gets this from a combination of breeding and nutrition.

Roger says his medium-sized strong cows are ideal – a cross of Montbeliarde, Norwegian Red and British Friesian genetics. “And if we feed them properly, they produce good quality milk, stay fit and get back in calf easily.”

The diet is based on a TMR comprising grass and wholecrop silage and fodder beet – all home-grown forages – plus  molasses and a blend, as well as a rumen buffer, vitamins and minerals. This supports average yields in this NMR-recorded herd of 8,000 litres at 4.35% fat and 3.50% protein on twice-a-day milking.

“The fodder beet gives our cows plenty of energy and that, in turn, results in good fertility,” says Roger.

“We target, and usually achieve, a 365-day average calving interval. Getting cows back in calf is the cornerstone of our management system here. We’re mainly autumn calving and look to calve 240 cows in an eight-week period from October.”

Fodder beet is introduced to the ration early in December at a rate of 6kg per cow per day, increasing to 8kg per head by the end of the month to get the energy up, ahead of starting to AI cows from the beginning of January. LG_Fodder_Beet_Robbos-and-clamp

Around 3.6 hectares of fodder beet is sown in April and provides a break crop for wholecrop wheat. “The land is free-draining, and the fodder beet grows really well, whatever the season throws at it,” he says. “We lift about 320 tonne of fodder beet each year, and yield doesn’t vary much from year to year.” Average yield is about 90t/ha.

He says that during the decade of growing the crop, he’s never had a bad harvest. “In fact, we’ve had some of our best yields when it’s been really dry and hot, such as in 2018 and in 2022. I think the extra warmth in the soil, when it did eventually rain, meant the beet grew like mad and more than made up for lost time.”

Fodder beet grown at Moat Grange, just south of the Preseli hills in the heart of Pembrokeshire, is lifted in early November and stored in a clamp, before being washed, chopped and added to the TMR.

“We feed it in the TMR even after the cows are turned out in mid-March. They’re given a buffer to support yields and fed concentrate in the parlour until milk eases off and they’re approaching drying off.

“The fodder beet keeps well, until mid-April when temperatures warm up and it starts to go soft. But we aim to have finished feeding it all by then.”

Roger is discerning about the variety he grows and takes advice from his Wynnstay adviser Laurence Couzens.

“We’ve opted for Robbos for the past few years, and I’m pleased with it. It offers a high dry matter yield and feed value. And the smooth skin, and the fact that it’s not too deep rooted, means it lifts out clean and easily, making it easier to wash.

“I know I don’t necessarily need to wash it, and many growers don’t, but I prefer to reduce any risk of soil contamination,” says Roger.

He farms the 174-hectare unit, which has been in the family for more than 100 years, in partnership with his father Robert and brother Simon.

Roger manages the dairy herd and followers with the help of a cowman and two full-time staff. His partner Angharad is also developing a gelato business – Llaeth Preseli Milk and Gelato – using milk from the herd.

Llaeth Preseli Milk - Roger James Moat Grange“Milk quality from healthy and productive cows is important to us,” he adds. “We sell pasteurised milk and handmade gelato directly from the farm. The milk is sold through a vending machine, and the gelato is served from a trailer in our ‘gelato garden’. Both these ventures are brand new and going well so far. Most of the herd’s milk is sold to First Milk and used for making cheddar cheese.

“We’re aiming to get the best from our unit and our cows. Our home- grown forage is vital. First cut is taken in mid-May – a little later than some would take it, but it means there’s more fibre in the silage and this balances well with the wholecrop. The fodder beet is the icing on the cake. Cows keep well on this, and production, health and fertility are good. So is our gelato!””


Can be part of a grass rotation or an alternative to spring cereal crops to provide livestock feed and break the pest and disease cycle

Crop can be lifted from late October until March. Little loss in feed value, if any, is typically seen in later harvested crops.

Average ME 12.5-13MJ/kg DM, 162,500 – 202,500MJ/ha with more recent varieties producing well above this level.

Consider root depth, disease resistance, bolting score

There are no recommended lists for fodder beet varieties, but Limagrain UK’s annual fodder beet trial results are available to all growers and farmers.

more information

Learn more about Robbos fodder beet here or contact your usual seed merchant for availability

The latest UK trial results data on fodder beet (including Fosyma) can be downloaded here

LG Fodder Beet UK Trials Data 2023


Fodder beet helps safeguard farmer from feed price hikes whilst benefiting land

Growing fodder beet to feed cattle and sheep is helping Shropshire mixed farmer Gordon Tomley safeguard against high feed prices and benefit soil health as part of his cereal rotation.

Mr Tomley grows 12ha of fodder beet a year to feed his 500 head of cattle – from his own 80-cow suckler cow herd and 200 bought-in dairy cross weaners a year – and 700 ewes. He says stock do well off it, with cases of twin lamb disease in ewes almost disappearing, and Angus heifers and steers averaging at least 1kg a day liveweight gain.

It also provides a good break crop for this mixed farm, which includes 243ha of arable. The main rotation includes two wheat crops, winter barley, stubble turnips, fodder beet and potatoes.

Feeding rate

Throughout the winter, heifers and steers over 12 months old are fed whole fodder beet in bunkers at a rate of 3kg to 4kg a day and ad lib silage, building to 15kg to 18kg as they head towards finishing.

Farmer-Gordon-Tomley-feeding-Robbos-fodder-beet-to-his-sheepIn the last three months of finishing, they are also fed barley straw and ad lib corn to get the finish. However, Mr Tomley says they will always choose to eat fodder beet over corn any day.

“There’s a saying that 4kg of fodder beet is worth 1kg of corn. It certainly helps us get a good finish on cattle at a cost to feed of about 2p to 3p/kg,” he adds.

His 80 dairy cross Angus suckler cows receive 10kg a head a day of beet, and anything under 10 months is on between 5kg and 8kg a day.

Dairy x Angus heifers are averaging 315kg and steers 335kg to 340kg at about 20 months old when they are finished.

Farmer-Gordon-Tomley-feeding-Robbos-fodder-beet-to-his-sheepEwes do equally as well on the home-grown product. He farms 400 Welsh and Beulah ewes on a hill farm nearby and he feeds whole ad-lib fodder beet, using a Marshall spreader, from December until six weeks post-lambing in April.

He also has 200 half-bred Mules on the home farm which are fed ad-lib fodder beet over winter. None of the ewes receives corn, as the fodder beet provides plenty of energy, and Mr Tomley says feeding fodder beet ‘takes a lot of hassle out of the job’.

He adds: “When you have a lot of stock, it’s good to know the fodder beet is there. It means we are not at the mercy of the marketplace, safeguarding us against high feed prices.”

Fodder beet also provides an added income stream as Mr Tomley sells up to 20% of the crop to neighbouring farmers, which this year was at £45/t.

Variety selection

Variety selection is critical to achieving such good performance in his stock, a key focus for agricultural merchants Wynnstay who offer support to growers and farmers in the region.

“We see big improvements in the reliability and consistency of higher yields and the improved feed value in the more recent varieties,” says the company’s grass and root seed manager Colin Jones.

Mr Tomley grows Robbos on his medium loam soil type. It yields more than 80t/hectare and has a dry matter of 19%.

Robbos isn’t such a hard variety, which is good for the sheep as it’s a little softer on their mouths. It also keeps its leaf well, so if stock is grazing it directly, there is feed value in the leaf. The good leaf also helps protect it against frost,” he adds.

Mr Tomley also notes the cleanliness of the variety. “The first lot we lifted last year didn’t need cleaning as Robbos has a clean root. Our contractors’ machines help too, as they spin off any soil,” he says.

Farmer-Gordon-Tomley-cow-herd-eating-Robbos-fodder-beetBefore growing Robbos, he grew Magnum for many years, but the yield was lower, but it needed the same inputs.

Mr Tomley uses a contractor to sow the crop, usually around April 10, and it follows a crop of stubble turnips. The first batch of fodder beet is usually lifted at the end of November, with a second lift in January and a third at the end of February.

He stores it in a heap on a concrete pad next to his silage clamp, with the roots able to keep for four to five months.

Getting a good crop requires some key management, though. Mr Tomley explains: “If you want the yield, then you must make sure there is no weed competition early on. We use one pre-emergence and one post emergence herbicide and fungicide for powdery mildew and yellow virus to protect the crop.”

He also applies 10 tonnes/ha of layer manure and 20t/ha of farmyard manure, which is ploughed in. The ground is then flat-lifted and worked, ready for sowing. “Last year, it paid off applying at the end of August after the dry summer,” he adds.

Middleton Farm Facts

• 162ha grassland and 243ha of arable
• Growing 12ha of fodder beet variety Robbos a year
• Growing, lifting and sowing costs £1485-£1605/ha
• Fed to 500 head of cattle and 700 ewes

About Robbos Fodder Beet

• Has the potential to produce high dry matter yields with its clean yellow roots and medium dry matter content.
• Ideal choice for both dairy and beef production, and for first-time fodder beet growers.
• Robbos fodder beet is UK proven with large leaves and clean roots.

More information

Learn more about Robbos fodder beet here or contact your usual seed merchant for availability

The latest UK trial results data on fodder beet (including Robbos) can be downloaded here

LG Fodder Beet UK Trials Data 2023

Modern fodder beet suits arable rotation and provides essential livestock feed
Brothers Richard and Fred White who run a 650-hectare mixed farm have grown fodder beet as part of their crop rotation for the past 23 years

Brothers Richard and Fred White run a 650-hectare mixed farm, comprising beef, sheep and arable enterprises, in Warwickshire, and they’ve grown fodder beet as part of their crop rotation for the past 23 years, waxing lyrical about its record yields and its part in ticking a lot of boxes in their farming system. Richard White_Fosyma Fodder Beet Grower Testimonial

They began growing Limagrain UK variety Fosyma in 2020 after a recommendation from Wynnstay’s Emma Edwards. This high-dry-matter fodder beet variety is pink-skinned and conical-shaped, and it combines a dry matter content of between 20% and 21% with a relatively high proportion of its root (40%) out of the ground, leaving just 60% in the ground.

Essential part of the rotation

“It fits well into our rotation, usually following and preceding winter wheat,” explains Richard. “We also grow forage maize to feed to the 180-head beef herd, as well as oats and barley, which is also rolled and fed to livestock.”

He and Fred thought Fosyma would do well on their Tamworth-based farm, particularly because they lift and feed fodder beet to their Hereford cattle and sheep during the winter.

It’s medium-depth root reduces the risk of soil contamination and offers flexible feeding and end-use options. Their contractor uses root-lifting equipment, typically harvesting the 23 hectares of the crop that they grow each year. Soil contamination has never been an issue for the Whites.

Market options

They store and feed approximately 50% of the fodder beet to their own sheep and cattle. The other half is sold off farm, for between £45 and £50 per tonne. Some has gone to AD plants, and some has also been sold to feed to deer om a nearby estate.

“They really enjoy fodder beet – as do our cattle and sheep. They all do really well on it.”

LG-Fosyma-fodder-beet-in-storage-clamp_Richard-WhiteProducing home-grown feed and forage is a priority for the brothers, but fodder beet is also a useful break crop. “We typically sow is at the end of April, after applying plenty of manure,” explains Richard, adding that the farm comprises a mixture of different soils.

“We have heavy, medium and light soils and the crop is sown across them all – we mix it up. And is performs well – we always see good yields.”

Once in the ground, Richard says the fodder beet ‘doesn’t hang about’. “It germinates and grows quickly. We do need to control weeds, to prevent competition, but once well established the crop’s canopy helps to suppress them.”

The crop is typically ready for harvest at the end of September, but they leave it in the ground until lifting in mid-October. As soon as the beet is lifted, they’re ready with the drill and sow winter wheat into the ground. So they’re not leaving the land fallow over winter.

Palatable yields

For the past three years Fosyma has yielded between 30 tonnes and 35 tonnes per acre (75 tonnes and 87 tonnes per hectare). It’s stored outside in a clamp made from straw bales and feeding to outwintered livestock starts when grass growth slows, which is usually at the end of October.

“It’s fed whole, on the ground, to cattle and sheep. We don’t have to chop it. And they love it – there’s no waste.”

Richard adds that as well as adding ‘interest’ to winter rations, fodder beet also supports lamb growth.

Sheep-grazing-on-LG-Fosyma-fodder-beet_Richard-WhiteThe 450-ewe flock lambs in late April, and lambs are finished on the farm’s 400 acres (160-hectares) of permanent pasture and fodder beet during the winter. “We start selling lambs in January, at around 45kg LW,” he says.

Home grown forage saves £

“We don’t buy in any feed or concentrates for the ewes or the lambs – the system is completely forage based.”

The beef enterprise is also predominantly grass based, with only home-grown cereals fed as part of winter ration when cattle are housed. Cattle are finished and sold, at between 24 and 30 months, to local butchers in Atherstone

In 2021, Richard grew a crop that looked very ‘bare’. “The seed went in well, as usual, but were no beet plants and there were no weeds either. It was odd and Limagrain UK’s Brian Copestake came to take a look because I was at a loss as to what had happened.

“He said it was a flea beetle problem and while I was deliberating about re-drilling, the field suddenly sprouted green rows of beet plants. It soon caught up and within weeks we had a field full of strong and healthy beet that as well up to calf level. It bounced back well and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other crop do that.” Farmer-Richard-White-tipping-LG-Fosyma-fodder-beet-whole-from-tractor-to-feed-his-sheep-flock

All-weather crop

Fodder beet also performs well in both wet and dry summers. “We noticed how much deeper rooted the crop was in 2022, due to the drier than typical conditions. It tolerated the more extreme summer and actually outperformed the 2021 crop.

We harvested 98 tonnes per hectare, which we were extremely pleased with,” says Richard, adding that poorer performing crops of different fodder beet varieties have yielded just half that at 50 tonnes per hectares.”

The Whites are planning to grow a similar hectarage of Fosyma in 2023.

“The variety (Fosyma) is the best we’ve ever grown, and we’ll certainly be drilling it again in 2023. Fodder beet has been an essential part of livestock rations and the crop rotation here for 23 years, so that’s not set to change,” adds Richard.

Learn more about Fosyma fodder beet here or contact your usual seed merchant for availability

The latest UK trial results data on fodder beet (including Fosyma) can be downloaded here

LG Fodder Beet UK Trials Data 2023

The Power of Beet

Few forages can compete with fodder beet in dairy cow rations.

Its energy and dry matter content competes with the other forages, even maize silage. This can help to increase yields from forages and take the pressure off more expensive feeds. This is the time of year to consider growing a crop or securing a grower and contractor who can supply fodder beet for the forthcoming season. Fodder beet is reliable, producing consistent yields regardless of growing conditions. Limagrain UK trials show that even in a dry summer, beet keeps growing and produces good yields. Yields are typically between 70 and 80 tonnes per hectare – and with new genetics, they can reach 100 tonnes per hectare. MEs are typically between 13 and 13.5 megajoules per kilogramme of dry matter in good varieties. Sown in spring, up to early May, fodder beet can follow first-cut silage and provide a valuable break crop to help combat pests and diseases in grassland. It can also slot easily into an arable rotation if it’s lifted in October, allowing a winter cereal crop to be drilled. It can be lifted and stored then added to a TMR or grazed by youngstock or dry cows in situ – or a bit of both.

Pick your beet

A fodder beet variety with medium dry matter content and that has 60% or less root in the ground (compared to some varieties that have 70% or more of their root below ground) is better suited to dairy systems. These are cleaner and easier to harvest or to graze. Robbos and Blaze are prime examples. They have 60% or less of their root in the ground and both have consistent and reliable yields. Fosyma, added to the National List in 2020, is also ideal for dairy. It is rhizomania tolerant, resistant to powdery mildew, rust and leafspot, as has a high tolerance to bolting. Download the latest UK Fodder Beet Trial results here 

Primed seed boosts fodder beet establishment
A limited amount of primed fodder beet seed, that promotes early germination, is now available from Limagrain UK for three of its top varieties; Robbos, Brick and Tadorne.

The seed has been primed using the Germ’activ system that encourages faster germination and crop establishment. “Fodder beet is at its most vulnerable when seedlings are in their early growth stage and can be affected by pest and disease damage,” says Limagrain’s forage crop director Martin Titley. “The aim is to get the crop to its five-leaf stage as quickly as possible and past the period that the plants are at most risk of damage.”

 Using primed seed has been shown to promote establishment and has helped to create a more uniform crop. “These are key in the success of a high feed value fodder beet crop for either lifting or grazing in situ” he adds. A list of suppliers of Limagrain fodder beet varieties, including primed seed supplies, is available by calling 01472 370124 The company also carries out field trials on commercially available fodder beet varieties every year.

The latest fodder beet trial data can be found here

More opportunities for beet
Limagrain UK Forage Marketing Director Martin Titley

Martin Titley – Director of Forage Crops

With purchased feed becoming more expensive, many livestock producers are returning to a reliable crop that can produce a consistent feed – fodder beet!

It’s a great crop to grow, but you need the right soil, the right machinery, and a good arable knowledge – as the inputs and growing costs (approx. £1,500 per ha) are relatively high and are necessary to achieve the crops’ full potential.

Seed is pelleted and needs to be precision drilled, and considering that many of the older single row harvesters are now becoming obsolete, it’s no surprise that many livestock producers are relying more on arable farmers to grow the crop as a cash crop.

The crop is usually sown from late March to late April, and harvested in October/ November; very similar to sugar beet.

A well grown crop can yield up to 100 tonnes per hectare, with a typical ME of 13 MJ/kg dry matter – unrivalled in terms of any other fodder crop.

With purchased feed becoming more expensive, many livestock producers are returning to a reliable crop that can produce a consistent feed – fodder beet!

High dry matter varieties have also been successfully used for Biogas production, where gas yields have been impressive.

There are also some fantastic varieties available, such as the high dry matter varieties Brick and Tadorne, as well as consistent performers more suitable for livestock production, such as Robbos and Blaze.

Download a copy of the latest trial results