Livestock producers have been urged to consult the new NIAB descriptive list prior to choosing maize varieties instead of reacting to poor performance, as weather conditions become more haphazard.

The 2012 list, launched at this year’s Livestock Event includes 13 new first choice varieties.

All thirteen feature on the Favourable DL, with twelve of these also added to the Less Favourable DL aimed at producers with marginal growing conditions.

Speaking at the launch Dr Gareth Burns from NIAB said farmers should take a holistic approach to selecting varieties, and should consider the nutrient value, not just the yield.

He said using varieties with higher cell wall digestibility could benefit animal performance and productivity.

“Improvements in the cell wall digestibility of the maize plant can confer significant increases in animal intake.”

CWD details were included on the list for the first time last year. The values of CWD range from 50-60%, but Mr Burns said varieties scoring in the 50s are considered more digestible.

“They will be broken down faster in the rumen, ultimately increasing potential dry matter intake,” he explained.

New, Favourable site varieties Dualto and Chavoxx display particularly high CWD, at 60.6% and 60.1% respectively.

For Less Favourable varieties Twixxi shows the highest CWD score of 59.2%.

It has been reported that maize yields and quality is varied across the UK this year, with starch, ME and feed values are expected to be lower this season.

“The particularly cold and wet weather in April either slowed or damaged establishment, and in many cases delayed sowing until May. This will delay harvest by two or three weeks and yields will be likely to be down on previous years,” Mr Burns added.

Brendan Paul, from Agrii admitted the season could put many farmers off growing maize, but he said it will only be short-term, with producers having little other option of what to grow.

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