24 April 1998

Late drilling for maize

Late drilling for maize

WET ground conditions are putting growers of early maturing maize varieties under pressure as drilling is delayed and the success of follow-on grass leys is put at risk.

So says MGA agronomist, Simon Draper, who suggests drilling wont start until the beginning of May – nearly a fortnight late for some growers.

"The whole country has been affected by the wet weather," he says. If drilling is delayed until May, growers of early varieties could reduce seed rates by about 8% to bring harvest dates forward by a week, he adds.

But, Shropshire-based maize specialist, Simon Pope, warns that growers may have drilling delayed even once soils dry out. "Contractors will be inundated with demands to get maize crops sow – the wet weather having shortened the drilling period.

"Marginal producers have until mid-May before ruling out drilling. Historically, its late April before soil temperature is right for drilling in marginal areas – theyve still some time to get maize sown without any negative effects."

Pembroke-based ADAS senior dairy consultant, John Cook, says if the wet spell is prolonged into May, marginal growers should consider alternative crops. "Whole-crop cereals could be used to produce a high starch winter forage, whereas stubble turnips or kale will provide high dry matter grazing."