23 October 1998

Frost forces harvest

EARLY frost and inclement weather is pushing forward maize harvesting across much of the country and cutting dates have been set for the remaining trial sites.

Although some growers may hold out for optimum cob maturity, many are being forced to cut early after severe frosts last weekend across the midlands and south.

Nick Botterell, farm manager at CWS Castle Howard, expects to cut this week despite less than ideal crop maturity. "Following a -3íC air frost last Sunday morning, we will harvest as soon as possible despite a dry matter content of 22%. The crop has lacked that fortnight-long Indian summer needed to finish it off."

Although maize crops can withstand up to three frosts, many producers are urged to cut as soon as possible after the first frost to avoid crop losses. Leaf sugar and digestibility both fall after the plant has been killed while risk of fungal attack increases.

The three remaining trials crops are expected to be harvested sometime this week. &#42

Forage maize dry matter change

Site DM% Oct 8 DM% Oct 15 Change on week %

Crediton, Devon Harvested n/a

Attleborough, Norfolk Harvested n/a

Gelli Aur College, Dyfed 27.8 26.1 -1.7

Winchester, Hants Harvested n/a

Ticknall, Derbys 27.2 28.7 +1.5

Castle Howard, N Yorks 22.8 21.1 -1.7

Dumfries, Scotland* 28.8 Harvested n/a

* Variety Nancis – all other sites drilled with Sophy