10 May 1996

Mixed advice in maize areas

CONTRASTING weather across the UK maize growing area is leading to conflicting advice.

In the west, where April rain figures were as much as 150% above the April average, growers were being warned to delay drilling until the ground was dry enough.

In some areas of the east, however, rainfall for April was as low as 15% of the average and soil conditions were dry.

Maize Growers Association agronomist Simon Draper says: "Rainfall has been very localised creating a confusing picture for the UK and an individual farms soil and rainfall could make growing conditions different from a neighbouring farm.

"Under wet conditions growers should not attempt to work the soil because wheelings and smearing will restrict crop growth."

He also warned against using a spring tine to improve drainage. This could damage the moisture retentiveness of the soil which could be vital later in the season.

"Where it is dry it could be necessary to roll land to consolidate soil and bring as much moisture up to growing seed as possible," he says.