11 August 1995

1995 maize countdown starts 10 days ahead

By Jonathan Riley

farmers weeklys countdown to the 1995 forage maize harvest starts this week with crops 10 days ahead compared with the same stage last year.

For the past three harvests, sites in the main forage maize growing areas of England have been supplying farmers weekly with dry matter (DM) figures from their maturing crops. Each week until the end of harvest we will publish a table showing how the farms are progressing towards harvest at about 30% DM.

All sites are growing the variety Botanis, and their crop DMs on Aug 3 are shown in the table.

Of the sites, Carmarthen is highest above sea level at 152m. The DM figure indicates how the unusually sunny weather for this marginal maize growing site has brought the crop on. In many regions the crop has pollinated, and cobs are beginning to fill.

The earliness of the crop has forced the Maize Growers Association (MGA) to bring forward its forage maize demonstration from Oct 26 to Oct 10.

Gordon Newman, chairman of MGAs management committee, says: "There is a danger farmers will allow crops to get too mature. Maize silage should be cut when dry matters reach the upper 20s, low 30s. Go beyond this and the digestibility of the starch will fall."

Mr Newman says that generally growers have managed their crop well. "As we approach harvest, crops on chalky soils appear to have benefited from inter-row cultivations in the spring to improve soil temperatures," says Mr Newman. "The few poor crops may be due to plough-pans preventing plants from accessing deep-seated moisture."

"Before planting next years crop, find out whether a plough pan exists and subsoil to break it up," he says.

"Weeds may also have affected the crop where pre-emergence herbicide applications were not possible in wet weather. The dry weather that followed reduced the efficacy of post-emergence control."

Coop de Pau 1995 forage maize dry matter data from seven farms

Site locationDrilling Height aboveDM%

datesea level(m)Aug 3

Crediton, Devon16/411817.7

Attleborough, Norfolk3/53517.1

Winchester, Hants23/413718.8

Carmarthen, Dyfed16/415217.2

Driffield, Yorks13/53713.1

Hinckley, Leics1/511018.3

Dumfries, Scotland11/54512.6