Maize harvest is progressing well in the South and East with growers poised to start chopping in the Midlands, Cheshire and under plastic in the North and West.

The crops are very big, both physically and the large cob size, with a high-grain content and this is really making the harvesters work hard, reports Neil Groom, technical director of Grainseed.

With foragers under pressure, he advises farmers to assess the chop length of the silage as it comes into the clamp.

See also: How the three-crop CAP rule will affect your livestock farm

“With modern grain processors the chop length can be lengthened to 20mm to give some structural fibre for cattle feeding since the processor bruisers or cuts each grain.”

Maize for AD plants should be chopped shorter, ideally 4-6mm to increase the surface area for the bugs to digest the fibre within the plant, this will shorten retention times, he says.

The Farmers Weekly site in Devon and Norfolk both expect to harvest this week and Hugh McClymont at SRUC also intends to harvest some early drilled fields under plastic.

“Crops are fully mature in the cob and still green so it will make good silage. During this dry period I want to get some maize clamped and then I can reseed with Italian ryegrass to utilise nutrients and prevent soil erosion,” says Mr McClymont.

Maize Watch dry matter results – week five    
Site Drill date Height above sea level (m) Crop dry matter 17 September Increase from last week
Petworth, Sussex  22 April 50 Harvested  
Harleston, Norfolk 24 April 30 28.7 +1.3
Crediton, Devon 23 April 118  33.2 +4.6
Ticknall, Derbyshire 4 May 67 28.5 -0.1
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire* 16 May 32 24.4 +2.1
SRUC, Dumfries – plastic 23 April 45 27.4 +2.6
SRUC, Dumfries* 23 April 45 21.0 +0.5
*Variety Es Picker, all other sites are Es Ballade. Variety under plastic Es Marco