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

Elvetham. Living seeds of ‘Elvetham’ was not available until 2005 - when it appeared that the cultivar was maintained on-farm at Gummerup Open Air Museum, located on the island Fyn in Denmark. Since the cultivar ‘Elvetham’ left the market in the late 1920s it has been maintained consecutively by three farmers at different locations. It is not recognized to the English gene banks nor was it found in The International Database for Beta (IDBB). So, despite the English sounding name it seems to be a genuinely Nordic cultivar. A source mentions that it is old language for ‘elleve tommer’ (eleven inches) that may have been mistaken. Finally, in a museum collection from 1880 a seed lot named ‘Elvetham’ was located in the Vänersborg Museum in mid Sweden. The seeds were originally used for an agricultural exhibition. They have not been regenerated and are thus genetically original but, unfortunately, not viable

’Elvetham’ fodder beet belongs to the old group of long cylindroconical beets growing very shallowly in the soil. It probably originates from the English cultivar ‘Mammoth’ (Anonymous 1903; Osvald 1952) and was commonly grown in the Nordic countries from 1860 to the end of the 1920s. Once introduced to Denmark and Sweden the beets were improved by selection and hybridization. The beets were crossed within and between groups and even sugar beet germplasm was introduced to increase the dry matter content (Rasmusson 1951).

The Elvetham beet is 20 – 40 cm in height and the diameter is 5 – 10 cm, about 50% is above the ground. The skin is true clear red (rgb(255,0,0) and the flesh is white.

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: Denmark

Presently only grown in a few locations for conservation.

Farmer(s) description:


Propagation system: Seed, cross-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

The beet is an outcrossing and wind pollinated species, which gives some challenges. Big isolation distances and environments free of other beet cultivation are necessary. When starting, the roots were compared to pictures from old seed catalogues of the original Elvetham beets to select the most similar exemplars for conservation. The multiplication population size is 20 – 30 plants.

Management plan existence:


Added Values

Market - existing and novel:


Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

Fodder beets are not common anymore, so it is important for general public to know it. It is an authentic feed plant for museums and for farm animal conservation, much better than silage. Formerly, beets were used for syrup production.

There is no official program form on-farm conservation of heritage- or conservation varieties in Denmark. The conservation of this landrace is the responsibility of one single maintainer and the Danish Seed savers.

The beet is stored at the NordGen facility: accession NGB16229.

Case study prepared by Danish Seed Savers (DSS), Denmark.

Most of updates have been communicated by Gert Poulsen (DSS).

  • Anonymous (1903) W. Weibull, Illustrerad Fullständig Katalog för våren 1903 p 10.
  • Osvald H. (1952) Åkerns Nyttoväxter. AB Svensk Litteratur, Stockholm, Sweden, pp 389–397.
  • Rasmusson J. (1951) Rotfruktsförädlingen. In Åkermann Å, Nilsson F, Sylven N and Fröier K (eds), Svensk Växtförädling 1, Åkerbruksväxterne, Natur och Kultur, Stockholm, pp 327–422.