Livestock

Watch maize crop maturity closely

Wednesday 17 October 2012 09:15

Weather and field travelling ability are concentrating many maize growers' minds at the moment.

Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed, says the poor summer and wet autumn means most maize growers wish to finish the season and get the crop cut. "Every farm is different and if your crop hasn't been frosted then allowing the plants to fully mature will provide massive advantages as starch levels improve," he says.

Mr Groom says it's notable that this year the grain can be fully mature and hard, but the leaves and stems are still green with a lot of sap in the stem. He says key to optimising performance in the winter ration will be regular silage analysis throughout the winter.

"We always know that maize performs better in the ration after Christmas as the acids in the clamp soften maize grains making the starch more accessible to the rumen bugs. No one feeding a balanced ration sees maize grains in the dung after Christmas."

There is also a need for regular analysis, believes Mr Groom because maize growers have a different product in the clamp this year. "Maize is normally around 30% dry matter and 30% starch, but these crops which have less bulk due to weather still have a normal cob in many situations. This could increase forage starch and energy levels resulting in a more concentrated product to feed."

Robert Parker, sampling for Farmers Weekly in Derbyshire, has already started cutting maize. He says: "With the need to continue maize in the ration, and last year's crop beginning to run short, we want to get something in the clamp," he said.

Although he expected one of his fields not to be ready, cutting had to begin in order to not lose any more maize to the badgers who had already taken half an acre out of a nine-acre field.

Mr Parker says his best fields were following grass and drilled early June. But he expects yields to be 30% down in the smaller areas where the fields are wetter.

Site

Drill date

Height above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 4 Oct (%)

Increase

Petworth, Sussex

18 April

50

Harvested

 

Harleston, Norfolk

4 May

30

33.4

+7.7

Crediton, Devon

5 May

118

28.1

+ 0.7

Ticknall, Derbyshire

12 May

67

25.4

+3

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire*

4 May

32

22.6

+ 2.5

SAC, Dumfries, Scotland (plastic)

26 April

45

24.1

+3.7

SAC, Dumfries, Scotland*

26 April

45

20.6

+ 1

* Variety Es Picker, all other sites are Es Ballade. Variety under plastic Es Marco.

More on this topic

* Maize Watch is a weekly series looking at maize progress throughout the harvest period. Information is provided by Grainseed. More information can be found at www.fwi.co.uk/maizewatch

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