Many maize growers have large crops this year with well-fertilised cobs aided by rain at pollination, but a lack of heat and sunshine hours is hampering maturity, says Neil Groom, technical manager for Grainseed.

“It has been a season where field conditions and seed-beds have determined how well maize has performed. When there were problems with soil structure, late drillings or crops planted on unsuitable fields, crops have suffered, but in general growers have been pleased with the bulk of crops – we just need some sun to drive maturity.

“Looking back at data collected last year, the farms in the good maize growing areas were 7-10 days later to harvest than normal due to green crops taking longer to dry down. While those in the challenging areas with less heat units were not delayed at all and crops were harvested in good weather in mid October,” he explains.

Growers should always allow the crop to reach 28% dry matter in the field wherever possible. This ensures sugars in the leaf have been converted to starch in the grain that acts as the store of energy cows can use, adds Mr Groom.

“Cuting crops too early and risks effluent loss from clamps and creating a wet, low pH silage that cattle do not want to eat rather than a dry, open maize silage that complements grass silage in the ration.”

Maize crops

Site

Drill date

Ht above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 5 September

Petworth, Sussex

13 May

50

25.2

Harleston, Norfolk

3 May

30

21.1

Crediton, Devon

28

118

No sample

Ticknall, Derbyshire

2 May

67

19.1

Poyerston, Pembroke*

8 May

20

19.9

Leyburn, N Yorks*

10 May

140

17.2

SAC, Dumfries, Scotland*

6 May

45

20.0

* Variety Nancis, all other sites are Agreement