Fodder Beet (Beta Vulgaris L.) Yield and Quality Attributes as Affected by Sowing Date, Age at Harvest and Boron Application

Heba S.A. Salama, Mahmoud M. Zeid

The forage potential of fodder beet (Beta vulgaris L.) grown under the Egyptian agricultural conditions
has not been fully investigated. This study was carried out during two successive winter growing seasons
(2014/2015 and 2015/2016) in Egypt and aimed to investigate the variations in yield and some quality
attributes of fodder beet as affected by three sowing dates (15th September, 15th October and 15th
November), three ages at harvest (120, 150, and 180 days after sowing - DAS), and boron application. Total,
root, and shoot yields (t ha-1), as well as root and shoot dry matter contents (g kg-1) were evaluated. Fodder
beet quality was judged in terms of the variations in the three fiber fractions (NDF, ADF, and ADL), in
addition to the in vitro true digestibility (IVTD), and the NDF digestibility (NDFD). A pronounced response
in most of the studied parameters to the different sowing dates and age at harvest was detected, while boron
application had minimal influence on yield and quality of fodder beet. Early sowing (mid-Sept.) and late
harvesting (180 DAS) resulted in the maximum fresh yield amounting to 170 ton ha-1, while a delay in
sowing to mid-Nov. resulted in 53% reduction in fresh yield. The maximum dry matter content, on the
other hand, was achieved with late sowing (mid-Nov.) and late harvesting (180 DAS). The role of boron in
nutrient translocation from shoots to roots was clear in the significant decrease of the shoot dry matter
content. However, no effect was observed for the root and shoot fresh yields. Harvesting at 180 DAS lead to
the accumulation of the highest significant amount from the three tested fiber fractions (NDF, ADF and
ADL). Regarding digestibility, both IVTD and NDFD values, declined with the increase in plant age at
harvest. Results of the current study indicated that the fiber fractions of fodder beet roots and shoots were
distinguishably lower than other forage crops. Furthermore, the high digestibility of 79% for IVTD and
60%for NDFD for fodder beet roots and comparable values for shoots, emphasize the excellent fiber quality
of this crop. Records of the quality attributes of fodder beet, in the current study, in addition to its high
yield, suggest that it can complement the high-protein berseem clover feed in critical periods of forage
shortage and improve the nutritional value of the produced feed in the winter season in Egypt.
Key words: Fodder beet, winter forages, productivity, fiber fractions, digestibility.