15/7/20 - On a warm day in May 2020 on a dryland block in drought-challenged Matamata ADAMA Commercial Manager Doug Speers watched as sugar beet was harvested almost as fast as the trucks could transport it. “The truck was filled in about 15 minutes.”
He said the 20 hectare crop from seed supplied by Farmlands had benefited from using the ADAMA beet herbicide programme and also from the farmer’s willingness to work with specialised local contractors and advisors. “There’s some good expertise around beet crops now."
John Austin Ltd planted the seed and sprayed the crop initially, with Pollock Spraying Services covering the rest of the season, supported by sound advice from Farmlands’s TFO Peter Smart.
Experienced Matamata dairy farmers Bruce and Jackie Tiddy saw the potential in beet a few seasons ago impressed by their herd’s response to the fodder beet purchased from a local grower. The following season Bruce planted 28 hectares in fodder beet. It was part grazed and part lifted, siloed, chipped and added to maize silage.
This year, he switched to sugar beet with a view to lifting and storing the entire crop, before chipping and adding to maize silage. Sugar beet stores better than fodder beet, has high bulb dry matter, and one third less water than fodder beet.