Harvesting forage maize, Bedale, North Yorkshire© John Eveson

Maize maturity really moved on last week on all the Farmers Weekly farms, reports Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed.

The cooler nights have switched maize crops into their dry-down phase as the plant moves sugars in the leaf to starch in the grains and reaches full maturity, explains Mr Groom.

Some sites have increased in dry matter by 5-6% (see table). “It is important to look at your fields twice a week and keep your contractor informed of progress to enable them to harvest when your crops are fully mature at 30-35% dry matter,” says Mr Groom.

See also: Maize Watch: Advice on establishing a strong crop

Site

Drill date

Height above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 12 September

Increase from last week

Petworth, Sussex

2 May

50

Harvested

 

Harleston, Norfolk

5 May

30

29.5%

+2.9

Crediton, Devon

24 April

118

26.2%

+2.5

Ticknall, Derbyshire

7 May

67

27.1%

+5.5

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire*

10 May

32

26.9%

+6.2

SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland PLASTIC

4 May

45

20.4%

+3.8

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

“Think about harvest flow,” advises Mr Groom. He says that deciding which order to harvest the fields and the route of the trailers can reduce bottlenecks if travelling down lanes.

He also reminds farmers that it is important to remain courteous to other road users, despite maize harvest being such a busy time. 

“If soil is dropped on the road then ensure a sweeper keeps the road clean, this is best achieved by sweeping from the beginning of cutting rather than waiting until there is a problem.”

Simple preparations like filling poor gateways with fresh stones, or using farm tracks to clean wheels before reaching the road can all help reduce problems, he adds.

Mature maize crop, Holbeach Marsh, South Lincolnshire

© Gary Naylor

Critical clamp rolling

Remember rolling on the clamp is critical, the Maize Growers Association advises ensuring there is 25% of the delivery rate of tractor on the clamp, so if you are getting 100t/hour (i.e six 16t trailers) you need 25t of tractor compacting the silage.

Spread thin layers no more than 6in deep across the clamp and keep rolling.

Good dry matters on Devon farm

Bill and Chris Blake, sampling for Farmers Weekly in Devon, have seen grain maturity move on this week as the grain becomes milky with solid starch in the base of the grains.

“It has been constantly wet down here,” says Bill, who is pleased to see maize dry matters increase, given the catchy cereal harvest for many.  

“I grow early maturing varieties so that we can cut the maize in better conditions and to allow time to cultivate the fields after maize harvest,” adds Bill.

“We try to get another crop in after the maize, but we will rip the stubbles whatever to ensure rain soaks into the soil rather than run off across the surface.”