8 November 1996

Maize lodging risk after heavy storms

HEAVY rain and wind has caused lodging in some maize crops still to be harvested.

Maize is now past its optimum harvest date says Maize Growers Association agronomist Simon Draper, and drying stems are weakening and making the crop more prone to lodging.

"Some growers have been caught out this year by early maturing, stay-green varieties which had dry enough cobs for the plant to be harvested some weeks ago," says Mr Draper.

"Because cob ripeness was overlooked plants have been left and are now lodging." Although lodging makes harvesting more difficult, the main problem is soil in the clamp which could cause secondary fermentation." To reduce soil contamination the plant should be lifted and cut as high as possible.

But where harvesting conditions are difficult Mr Draper advises using an additive to improve fermentation.

Rain and bad lodging have delayed the forage maize harvest on some Welsh farms, especially in marginal growing areas. At Gelli Aur College in Carmarthenshire the eight varieties sown on a 10.5ha (26-acre) trial all yielded well. Most varieties were ready to harvest on Oct 1, but crops lodged in fields where cutting was delayed for an open day.