The increased sunshine hours this season has seen maize growers clamping high-quality maize, with growers in mainstream areas making good progress in the past week.

Crops in the Midlands and South West are also reaching full maturity now.

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

“Looking at the results from the Farmers Weekly farms [see table below], we can see the good weather has caused dry matters [DMs] to increase by 2-3%,” says Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed.

Week 3 maize dry matter (DM) results

Site

Drill date

Ht above sea level (m)

Crop DM 10 September (%)

Increase from last week (%)

Petworth, Sussex

22 April

50

27.8

+ 2.5

Harleston, Norfolk

24 April

30

27.5

+ 1.8

Crediton, Devon

23 April

118

28.6

+ 3.5

Ticknall, Derbyshire

4 May

67

28.6

+3.8

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire*

16 May

32

22.3

+2.4

SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland PLASTIC

23 April

45

24.8

+0.2

SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland*

23 April

45

20.5

+0.6

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

John Hancock in Sussex says that his crop is still green and he expects to have harvested it by Monday (22 September).

“Grains are rock hard, but the stem is still juicy so I will wait until next week to maximise feed value; we will then get ploughing and drill wheat straight behind the maize.”

With good forage stocks on many farms and grass still out in the field, some clamps can be shut up and allowed to cure before feeding.

“Ideally maize should be ensiled for six weeks before feeding to allow the starch to become fully accessible to the cattle, so feeding grass and wholecrop until December could be advantageous,” says Mr Groom.

Consider further use of the field, too, if returning to maize then use a grubber to open up the soil structure after harvest. This will allow winter rains to soak into the soil rather than running off, losing nutrients and top soil.