Global consumption of grain maize outstripped production by a massive 31mt last year according to figures from the Agricultural Engineers Association.
UK farmers have a real opportunity to capitalise on that situation according to the Maize Growers Association, which points out that because of its increased conversion efficiency for biofuel production it is the most popular choice, especially in the US.
The organisation also says that the crop offers better margins than any other arable crop.
However it is worth noting that drying costs can be as high as £15/t with moisture levels at harvest typically in the region of 30%.
The other significant advantage that UK growers have over other countries is that British grain maize can be certified as 100% GM free. This is of particular significance where the crop is destined for human consumption or for animal feed.
With a mind to take advantage of of this new opportunity Claas was promoting its Conspeed maize headers at the Cereals event in Cambridgeshire this week.
Rows of crop are drawn into the header by chains.
Forward-facing conical rollers then grip the stalks, pulling them downwards through an aperture that strips the cobs.
These are picked up by the intake auger and enter the combine’s threshing mechanism.
Meanwhile the stalk is pulled downward through rotating flails that chop and distribute the residue.
With a £45,000 pricetag, it is a hefty investment but will typically outlast the combine, according to Claas which recommends a 10-15 year write-off period.
Modifications to the combine itself include a change of pre-accelerator concave, fill-in plates between the rasp bars on the main drum and a reduction gearbox to slow the drum.