2 November 2001

Maize choice confusing

Confusing NIAB lists, timing

of maize harvesting and soil

erosion were just some of

the topics discussed at a

recent MGA/BGS meeting.

Richard Allison reports

DECIDING which maize variety to grow is confusing, with six separate lists of recommended varieties published annually by NIAB. But it could be simplified, according to one expert.

At a joint Maize Growers Association and British Grassland Society meeting held in Sussex last week, MGA agronomist Simon Draper questioned NIABs approach.

Dairy producer Tim Burrough said choosing which variety to grow on his 200-cow East Sussex unit is like sticking a pin in the list. "There are too many varieties to choose from; only half this number are needed in the UK."

There are six NIAB lists based on first and second choice early and medium-early varieties grown on either favourable or unfavourable sites, said Mr Draper. On top of this, there are also seven different maturity groups, adding to the confusion.

"From the data, there appears to be little difference between favourable and unfavourable sites for varieties in the early maturity groups."

This similar performance is not surprising as most trial sites are used for both unfavourable and favourable site data, explained Mr Draper.

Therefore, varieties can be easily selected by first deciding which maturity group best suits your farm, based on target harvesting date and farm location. "For example, to achieve a harvesting date in the second week of September for a Sussex-based unit, a variety in maturity group 5-6 is required," said Mr Draper.

The final stage is to choose the best performing variety for dry matter yield or starch content, depending on which character is required. "Its normally a trade-off between yield and starch."

Generally, the highest yielding varieties in terms of dry matter in maturity groups 3-8 also have similar metabolisable energy yields. But it is more important to choose the correct maturity group, as poor harvesting conditions will outweigh any benefits from the variety chosen, added Mr Draper. &#42

MAIZE VARIETY CHOICE

&#8226 Confusing lists.

&#8226 Can be simple.

&#8226 Maturity group crucial.

It is essential to choose the correct maturity group when selecting maize varieties, says Simon Draper.