Maize harvest© Tim Scrivener

Maize harvest has started on sandy soils in east England following good weather last weekend, with yields looking high.

Neil Groom technical director for Grainseed says: “Crops are really good with high yields and well-filled cobs for many.”

The performance of maize in the ration is optimised at 30-35% dry matter and that should be growers’ target for harvesting and clamping, he adds. 

See also: Maize Watch: Farmers advised to check crops for maturity

“Keep your contractor up to date with your crops maturity, decide the order you wish the fields to be chopped and clearly mark any wildlife areas to leave.

“If crops do become very mature then cut these first so they are at the back of the clamp and on the bottom so the grain softens during storage.”

Mr Groom says farmers should check the first trailers that come into the clamp for chop length and grain processing too.

“Modern harvesters smash the grain, allowing the full benefit of maize starch to be used by the cows.

“Discuss with your nutritionist the desired chop length for your maize. This will depend on the chop length of your grass silage and any wholecrop.

Longer chop for more scratch factor is often better to allow the cows to ruminate well.”

See also: 6 ways to reduce maize losses from harvest to feeding

John Hancock who samples for Farmers Weekly in Sussex will harvest this week as all his fields reach full maturity. 

“We will drill wheat behind the maize, then grass or stubble turnips, before growing maize again. I tried growing a catch  crop of grass between maize crops, but our lack of rainfall meant that maize yields were compromised and so I have developed a longer more balanced rotation for the farm.”

Maize performance across six UK sites   

Site

Drill date

Ht above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 29 August

Increase from last week

Petworth, Sussex

2 May

50

30.2

+ 3.8

Harleston, Norfolk

5 May

30

24.7

– 0.9

Crediton, Devon

24 April

118

23.6

+ 4.0

Ticknall, Derbyshire

7 May

 67

23.1

+ 6.0

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire*

10 May

32

21.6

+ 2.9

 

SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland (plastic)

4 May

45

16.7

+ 0.6

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