White says correct paddock preparation has a huge impact on crop yield and one of the biggest problem they see is rushing to get the crop established without doing the ground work- literally.
“It’s about doing the basics right."
He says any fertility issues in the selected paddock should have been addressed following a soil test from at least the previous autumn. Going into spring, he recommends farmers together with their advisors or contractors, go out into the paddock and dig an inspection hole to check if there are any compaction layers at depth.
Sub-soil pans or compaction – need to be broken up before the crop is drilled. These pans will prevent the tap root penetrating the soil to access moisture and nutrients, will inhibit growth and stop the plants reaching their yield potential.
“The plants will establish but they will suffer if they come under stress.”
Once the paddock is prepared, the crop can be sown as early as environmental and soil conditions allow – taking climatic risks into account.
While the seeds will germinate at lower temperatures, they can be affected by frosts or cold snaps.
White says beet should be sown in soils on a rising temperature plane at a depth of no more than 20-25mm. This will help ensure an even germination with a reduced the risk of vernalisation or bolters.
“There is no calendar date that will determine the optimum sowing date, rather farmers should let the conditions come to them and sow as early as their respective conditions allow.”
He says there is a lot of misinformation circulating about the nutrient requirements of growing beet crops. Farmers should seek advice from reputable and experienced advisors to ensure the crop is getting the required nutrients for optimum growth at the key timings.