28 August 1998

Maize yields are down but…

FIRST analysis of maize progress for this years harvest shows a drop in predicted yield and a large variation in maturity due to poor weather. But theres potential for many crops to recover.

Delayed drilling of many crops and cool, wet weather in many areas through June and July with low levels of accumulated temperature, means crop maturity has advanced slowly.

However, some crops such as the site at Attleborough, Norfolk, are maturing well and have good yield potential. This is typical of the eastern and southern side of the country where ambient temperatures and sunshine levels have been higher generally.

Compared with last year, dry matters arent too different, only 2-3% lower. This is surprising given the different weather pattern between the years. Although UK overall forage maize yield potential is lower, crops could mature earlier as each plant can take more of the heat available – if and when it arrives – according to Grainseeds technical manager, Mike Warden.

However, seedbed conditions have affected crop potential. Any compaction, variability or damage to soil occurring in seedbed preparation or drilling will have a long term effect on germination and establishment. This may cause crop stunting through poor root and plant growth, lack of crop vigour, and variability in crop maturity.

Forage maize drilling date and data

Site Location Altitude* Drilling date Crop DM %

Crediton, Devon 118 May 6 20.7

Attleborough, Norfolk 25 May 14 23.3

Gelli Aur College, Dyfed 23 May 16 17.5

Winchester, Hants 100 April 30 20.6

Ticknall, Derbys 67 May 3 19.0

Castle Howard, Yorks 75 May 17 15.8

Dumfries, Scotland** 45 May 14 11.9

*Altitude – height above sea level (m)

**Variety, Nancis – all other sites drilled with Sophy