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Agronomic advice to assist in filling the feed gap

Forage & Root Crops

Agronomic advice to assist in filling the feed gap

Forage & Root Crops



Sow March - April (optimum drilling date of April)
Ideal for the UK’s unique maritime and highly variable climate, Fodder Beet produces a consistent, reliable output, regarded by many as potentially the highest yielding forage crop. Fodder beet has a robust and durable growth habit, combined with good resistance to disease, excellent ground cover, a broad drilling window and very long harvesting period. Soil temperatures need to be above 5°C with an optimum drilling date of early April. As a feed, fodder beet is highly palatable and can be grazed in situ or lifted, stored and then fed whole or chopped. Specialist drilling and harvesting equipment is required, to sow and to lift the roots and storage is required unless they are strip grazed in situ.
A minimum 5 year rotation is desirable to avoid the build-up of nematodes in the soil and weed beet in the crop. Fodder beet should ideally be grown on light to medium soils. The crop will do best in low rainfall and coastal areas, avoiding high altitudes and very wet or cold locations. Beet should not be grown on acid soils and the optimum pH is 6.5 to 7.0.

Pearce main varieties: Marian-Airlie-Ruta Otofte
A full season root crop which are mainly fed in situ, but can also be lifted and stored in a clamp. They are an excellent high energy winter feed. It is advisable to use an electric fence to reduce wastage. They do best in areas of high rainfall, so are generally grown in the more northerly and western areas of the UK.

Pearce main varieties: Vollenda-Rondo-Barkant-Tyfon-Delilah-Samson
Stubble turnips are a very fast growing catch crop that can be ready to feed within 12- 14 weeks from sowing. They are ideal for finishing lambs, or can be fed to both dairy and beef animals. The flexibility of sowing period ensures that crops can be fed from mid-summer through to January. As most crops are grazed in situ a free draining light loam with a pH of 6.5 is ideal. When planting a large acreage it is advisable to stagger sowing dates, increasing the seed rate in dry conditions. Crops sown in May should be ready for grazing mid-summer and crops sown in July or August are best grazed from November onwards.

Turnip/Rape Mix
A mixture with higher % of stubble turnips is ideal for sowing after winter cereals. It is suitable for post Christmas grazing as it exhibits very good winter hardiness, which is improved by the addition of kale. Sow mid July - mid September. Where forage rape is the higher % of inclusion, this mixture ensures quick establishment and high protein yields, whilst the stubble turnips provide energy and stockholding capacity.The mixture is ideal for fattening stock and will provide grazing from July through to December. Sow mid April - mid September.

Green Globe
Later maturing than stubble turnips – growing period of 12 – 15 weeks. A white-fleshed variety that produces a globe shaped Turnip. Can be sown for grazing in October - January. Most winter hardy variety.

Pearce main varieties: Emerald-Akela-Gorilla
Suitable for Autumn/Winter grazing, and usually grown in mixture with stubble turnips. Sowings are made as soon as harvest is cleared to lengthen the time for establishment and growth. Forage Rape has the advantage of being a very fast growing crop, suitable for grazing by sheep or cattle. An ideal catch crop for boosting midsummer forage production for livestock farmers when planted in the spring, it is suitable for fattening lambs in the autumn/winter. Forage rape extends the grazing season in the autumn and is superb for flushing ewes. It is better to strip graze to avoid excessive wastage.

Hungry Gap Rape
For later use, Hungry Gap’s exceptional winter hardiness will ensure crops can be used in January and February. It is best sown in June or July and its growth habit is kale-like in appearance.

Kale is a brassica traditionally grown for grazing by cattle in the autumn and winter. The longestablished mainstay of autumn through to late winter grazing, producing heavy yields of high protein and energy feed, with unrivalled winter hardiness. It can also be cut and fed to stock “in house” or as an alternative can be ensiled as big bale kaleage. Kale is very useful as it can extend the grazing season. It is advisable to alternate sowing dates to ensure it does not overmature. It is very adaptable and can grow on most sites throughout the UK. Kale can also be used as game cover ( see relevant section).


  • Maris Kestrel - Providing high digestibility right through the winter.
  • Thousand Head - Reliable and consistent variety. Medium height with good resistance to lodging it is a particularly winter hardy variety and provides nutritious leaves even in the winter.
  • Gruner Angeliter - Providing high digestibility right through the winter.
  • Caledonian - Club Root resistance - can be continuously sown on brassica sick sites. A taller kale allowing for easier bird access.
  • Golden Eye - A giant type kale especially bred for the game cover market, selected for the optimum combination of height and leaf production

This versatile crop offers a wide sowing window, from May to end of August. Offering high energy grazing for cattle and sheep from July through to the following March. Excellent late summer, autumn or winter feed. Fast and vigourous with early maturing (in 70-90 days) with superior regrowth potential.

Redstart is from the same breeding line as Swift and offers the same benefits - similar flexible and cost effective solutions to year-round quality forage supply, but with higher feed quality. Again a wide sowing window from May to August and with potential re growth.

Has an exceptional yield potential, disease resistance and palatability is ideal for finishing lambs or dairy cows. Interval is very fast to establish with some crops ready to utilise within 10-12 weeks of sowing.

A deep rooted, perennial legume, Lucerne is ideally suited to light, free draining soils with a pH of 7. The crop is usually sown between April and August at a depth of 1cm and a rate of 8-10 kilos per acre. Lucerne is usually treated as a 5 year conservation crop and cut 3-4 times. It is important to leave a minimum 10cm stubble to speed regrowth and not scalp the plant. The plants usually have a protein content of around 18% and their higher fibre levels complement items like maize silage in a ration. Lucerne has a very good yield potential of 13 tonnes of dry matter/ha/year over the first 2 years. The inclusion of Lucerne silage in dairy cow diets has been shown to improve forage intake and increase output of milk protein, with no change in milk fat. The benefits together with lower forage production costs when compared with grass silage should help to improve margin/litre of milk produced. Yet in spite of all of these important attributes, ruminant livestock producers have been reluctant to grow lucerne silage and the area in the UK is at present small.

Please contact us for more information:

Pearce Seeds LLP
Rosedown Farm
Marston Road

Tel: 01935 811 400
Fax: 01935 816 800