5 April 1996

Hang fire with maize

SOIL temperatures are still too low to drill maize and earliest drilling dates could be pushed back to the end of April.

Maize Growers Association agronomist Simon Draper says: "Soil temperatures are about 5C (41F) and maize will not germinate until it reaches 8C (46.4F).

"Given soil temperature rises by about 1C (1.8F) a week in mild weather at this time of year, drilling should be put back until the last week of April," he says.

In crops drilled now there could be an additional seed loss of between 10% and 15%. This will be higher if there is more cold weather for seeds will rot.

For producers waiting to drill and if conditions are dry enough, it may be possible to improve the seedbed by subsoiling.

"The extra time could also be used to control weeds which are emerging now and will be quite large and easy to clean up pre-drilling," says Mr Draper.