A waiting game for much-needed maize
BILL Gibson, farm manager for Northants-based Cottesbrooke Estate is having to wait until ground conditions improve before he can harvest his 70ha (175 acres) of forage maize.
The crop will provide an important ration input for the estates 230 cows.
"We are never that early with harvest on this heavy land even when growing some of the earliest maturing varieties," he says. "But this is getting to be a worry and I am making plans to buy forage maize from other sources, such is the importance of the crop for our 10,000-litre herd." Mr Gibson says that since the beginning of September over 11in of rain has fallen.
Desperate a few weeks ago to provide some forage maize for the cows, he cajoled his contractor into making a start.
"It was dreadful," he says. "The trailers could only leave the field with half loads and the mess made was just awesome. We managed just four hectares before an overturned trailer brought proceedings to a halt."
But he believes there is still hope that a successful harvest can still be made. "We have not had any frosts and the crop is still standing – just. A few dry days and use of a Kemper header could see us with a valuable quantity of reasonable quality silage being made," he says. *
Its ready and ripe – but its still in the field. Like many other forage maize growers this year estate manager Bill Gibson waits for ground conditions to improve before having his 70ha (175 acres) harvested. Turn to page 68 to see how contractors are coping.