Eleven new first-choice varieties have been added to the BSPB 2014 Forage Maize Descriptive List.

The varieties Glory and Fieldstar from Limagrain; Ramirez and Severus from KWS; Truxx and Mixxture from RAGT; MAS 11.F from Maisadour Semences; and Aritzo from DLF have been added to the Favourable Descriptive List (DL).

Seven of those eight varieties have also been added to the Less Favourable Descriptive list alongside Keen from KWS, MAS 09.A from Maisadour Semences and RAGT’s Zarlixx, providing growers in more marginal maize growing conditions with a wider variety choice.

NIAB TAG’s forage crop specialist Joanna Matthews says when considering variety choice, a combination of quality traits is always desirable, and that metabolisable energy (ME) and starch levels should not be thought of in isolation. “ME calculation is, in part, derived from the digestibility of plant material and it is this relationship between quality and accessibility which is key to optimal ruminant utilisation.”

The list’s indicator of accessibility is described by the cell wall digestibility (CWD) percentage, which is an indication of the stover (leaves and stem) quality. The expected range is 50-60%; the higher the percentage the better the potential for whole plant use and increased animal dry matter intake.

Assessing the new varieties, Dr Matthews considers Raminez, Aritzo and Truxx valuable additions to the Favourable Descriptive List, with good ME levels, ranging from 11.54-11.70MJ/kg combined with high CWD percentages from 59.1-59.4%. On less favourable sites, Keen and MAS 09.A offer the opportunity for quality accessible forage, with ME levels at 11.48 and 11.46MJ/kg respectively and CWD percentages of 57.1% and 58.2%.

“Glory has an average CWD score but its other characteristics are hard to ignore, including a high yield potential of 17.8t DM/ha and 17.3t DM/ha on the favourable and less favourable sites combined with very good ME and starch levels,” says Dr Matthews.

For growers looking for all-round performers, combining yield, ME and starch, then Severus and Mixxture, with starch levels of 34.7% and 34.2% respectively, have the capacity to provide a valuable ensilaged starch reserve.

On less favourable sites a valuable characteristic to look for in any forage maize variety is early vigour; the ability to develop rapidly in the establishment phrase. “Glory and Fieldstar show good early vigour scores and have a high yield potential at 17.3 and 17.7 t DM/ha respectively,” advises Dr Matthews.

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