Feedbeet is harvested in the Northern hemisphere from September to December. The timing of harvest is key for dry matter yield and practical convenience. The longer the beet stays in the ground the more dry matter is produced. On the other side stands practices for the machine harvest. Harvesting feedbeet involves considerations on harvesting equipment and also the question of leaf harvest or not.
Feedbeet Harvest Equipment
During the last decades the tractor pulled beet harvesters has, to a great extend, been replaced with self propelled sugar beet harvesters. A good handful of different brands are now covering the majority of the beet harvest in beet growing areas. The cost of a selfpopelled beet harvester is generally high, therefore beet growers often prefer to have the beet lifted by a contractor. The cost of beet lifting varies from region to region, but may be in the neighbourhood of 200-300 Euro per hectare.
Tractor pulled Harvester
A tractor pulled beet harvester was common in most beet growing areas some years back. A tractor pulled beet harvester is generally in the low end in terms of required investment. As a new beet grower such machines are readily available in most sugarbeet growing areas. And since they are currently not in use it should be easy to purchase a second hand machine at low costs. A machine which easily can list up to one hundred, or more, hectares per season.
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Beets are lifted out of the ground while the beet lifter is moving forward with various types of lifting agregates. The most common lifting agregates (in North Europe) are the upper wheels, two slightly angled diskformed steel plates which lifts the beet while being rotated from the friction with the ground. The upper wheels have good lifting capacity and can perform at rather clean lifting.
One obvious thing which is important is off course to avoid getting too much dirt in the final feed stuff. The initial cleaning of the beet happens in the field while the beets are lifted and transported over the roulettes and further over elevator to the container. It is obviously important to be aware of the lifting conditions (precipitation, soil moisture etc.). The soil tare is often mentioned to be a great disadvantage for beet feeding. However, it should be recalled that well cleaned beets may not contain more dirt than a common grass cut.
Beet is a cultivar which keeps growing through the season. Via the photosyntesis CO2 is converted to dy matter substanse, primarily sugars and fibers. To decide for the optimal harvest time of beet will often be a balance between achieving maximum yield weighed against the inconvinience of a late (more wet and cold) harvest.
From some time in July, when roots and leaf canopy has been thoroughly developed, the beet root starts to gain in weight. While provided with sufficient moisture the solar radiation leads to the generation of dry matter. Sunny and cold nights are the ideal conditions for building up dry matter. In North Europe about 100 kg of dry matter is added to the akkumulated yield in one hectare of beet in September. This figure declines through the autumn, but still in November a sunny day leads to and improved dry matter yield.
Store of fresh beet always brings challenges. Especially in the case of several months over winter storage. To achieve the full benefits of beet feeding, it is an advantage to feed beet year round. To do this co-ensiling with other feed stuff is an option. And here comes the point. To co- ensile with e.g. maize, the maize and beet harvest may be synchronized. This may lead to a slightly later maize harvest and a slightly too early beet harvest. But the practical aspects will always be an issue.