Beta vulgaris L. var. rapacea Koch. (Fodder beet )

Crop Type: Open field crop

Breeding system: Predominantly allogamous

Fodder beet is a biennial crop that develops the storage root during the first growing season. Before harvest the best roots for the next generation are selected. When winter comes the roots are harvested and stored in a beetroot clamp, to avoid frost damage. Most of the beets are used for feed during the winter. Next spring, the selected mother beets are planted in the field for seed production. Beta is an outcrossing and wind pollinated species.

The cultivation of root crops like fodder beets, turnips and swedes created the basis for the agriculture development based on animal husbandry that grew in Scandinavia in the last part of the 19th century. The root crops provided fodder that could be stored and used for animal feed during the long winters in the Scandinavian region until the next growing season could provide fresh supplies (Jensen 1989).

Fodder beet cultivation in Denmark is known since end 1700s. In 1870s a great diversity of beets were cultivated, but as early as 1895 the market was dominated by three major types, ‘Barres’, ‘Elvetham’ and ‘Eckendorfer’. Based on sale figures the market share of ‘Barres’ increased from 21% in 1884 to 88% in 1915, while ‘Elvetham’ decreased from  61% to 2% during the same period. ‘Eckendorfer’ contributed 6–9% throughout the period and left the market in the 1930s (Bøgh 1989).

  • Bøgh H. (1989) Dansk forædlingsarbejde med korn og foderplanter. Pajbjergfonden, Denmark.
  • Jensen H.J.W. (1989) Betydningen af anvendt forskning i omlægningen af dansk landbrug ca 1880–1914 –et eksempel. Bol og By – Landbohistorisk Tidsskrift 1989:93–118.