A Danish beet grower

The financial result in the variety trials is the major parameter for Danish beet grower, Klaus Pedersen, Rønnehavegård, when selecting beet varieties for next year. He grows 260 ha of land in total, 60 of them with sugar beet.

– From a financial point of view, sugar beet is by far the most important crop, so I do my best to keep up to date with developments in that department. I attend field visits and demonstrations; follow various news media; and not least, I study the test results from NBR Nordic Beet Research. Of course, my own experience with the varieties also counts. In this way, I have a solid basis for decision, when it is time to order varieties for the next season, says Klaus.

Avoiding bolters
Finance is his first priority, but Klaus also looks to other characteristics, especially bolting tendency.

– Many of my colleagues have struggled with bolters in the past few years, so avoiding bolters really claims my attention. Not only in selecting varieties, but also when it comes to growing techniques. Very mild winters tend to lure you into very early sowing. We are told repeatedly that early sowing results in extra profit, but nevertheless, I am a bit conservative in that field. I want the soil to be absolutely ready. You only have on chance, and it would be so very unfortunate to destroy the entire season because of a bad start, Klaus explains.

His fields are not particularly infested with nematodes. Because of high yields, some fields only see beet crops every fourth years. Moreover, he grows oil reddish as catch crop to prevent nematodes.

Five varieties this year
Klaus’ strategy when selecting varieties is to grow several varieties from different suppliers. This year, apart from MARIBO® varieties, he also grows varieties from two other suppliers, and preferably a test variety.

Yield doubled in my time
This year again, the beet harvest is expected to yield above normal. Well, maybe ‘normal’ is not the right word to use – increasing yields in the beet field rather seem to be the rule. Since Klaus started as an independent farmer in 1983, the average sugar beet yield has almost doubled.

– Other crops are not even close to matching this development. Therefore, I am quite optimistic when it comes to the competition that we will face, when the sugar quotas run out in 2017. We are competitive, and we are ready to increase production, if necessary.

Klaus realizes that increased production will result in longer campaigns. But, with the pit covering material used nowadays, it should not be a problem to store and deliver beets well into January. That is, if expenses and yield losses will be compensated, Klaus points out.

Several varieties are well suited for storage. Ole Lauridsen, Sales Manager at Maribo Seed, explains that a beet plant with a compact leaf crown will get only a small wound when the leaves are topped off, and this will reduce the yield loss during pit storage.

Pig manure for the beet field
Klaus has owned the farm ”Rønnehavegård” since 1992 with both agriculture and livestock. The crop rotation consists of sugar beet, wheat, malt barley and a little winter oilseed rape. He also produces approx. 5,000 porkers and sells about 1,200-1,500 30-kg-pigs annually. The pig production provides him with pig manure for the beet fields.

– The long growing season enables beet plants to utilize fully the nutrients in the pig manure. However, it is quite a challenge to pick the exact right time to apply the manure in the spring. So now, I will try to apply it with hoses to the oil reddish fields in the autumn. Oil reddish is catch crop in the fields where I will have beet in the spring. In this way, I will not have to apply manure to the beet in the spring, only a little starting fertilizer, Klaus explains.