28 March 1997

MGA frost warning

MAIZE growers are warned that yields could suffer if crops drilled early in response to warmer soil temperatures are hit by frosts.

Maize Growers Association agronomist Simon Draper says that with soil temperatures at 8C (46F) seeds will germinate and some growers could drill from the first week in April. "The advantage is that as maize has a fixed growing period, early drilling would bring harvest dates forward to about the first week in September," explains Mr Draper.

But he warns that frosts are still common in April, which would destroy the plant above ground.

"This means plant growth has to start again and, as the growing period is fixed, the crop will still reach maturity in the same time period, so crop yields could be reduced by 10-12%.

"It is, therefore, vital that before drilling growers keep a close eye on the weather forecasts and in areas where frosts are particularly common growers should be doubly cautious," he adds. &#42