13 October 2000

Storms put halt to harvesting

CONTINUED heavy rain and storms have prevented maize harvesting because of concerns over damaging the soil structure and carting mud onto the public highway.

Once weather conditions improve, crops will be rapidly harvested across England. Crops in northern England and Scotland are also maturing rapidly and early maturing varieties will be ready for cutting in the next 10 days, predicts Grainseeds Neil Groom.

Warm night temperatures throughout September allowed crops to lay down a lot of starch and we are expecting some good silage analyses this autumn. Growers should cut while the leaf is still green once grain is mature. Many contractors are now working systematically across farms in their area, so keep in contact and make sure you are ready for the harvesting team.

To maximise silage quality, ensure every grain is bruised or cut and that chop length is correct. Maize silage does not want to be pulverised, but it doesnt want to be too long either. A chop length that results in pieces of maize below 20mm is ideal for clamp consolidation and, according to animal nutritionists, is optimum length for feeding.

As the clamp is filled the buckrake must keep rolling to maximise consolidation – less air means better silage. Sheeting with good quality plastic and double sheeting on the clamp shoulders – along with using salt – helps limit waste.

Plastic should be secured on the clamp, ensuring good contact between silage and plastic. Using sand is better than old tyres because all plastic is then in contact with the silage rather than just the ring of the tyre. &#42

Maize crop dry matters for Oct 6


Site Ht above sea level (m) Crop DM Oct 6 DM increase

Petworth, Sussex 50 32.5% +2.3%

Harleston, Norfolk 50 29.3% +6.6%

Crediton, Devon 118 27.2% +2.3%

Ticknall, Derbyshire 67 26.4% +5.5%

Gelli Aur, Dyfed* 23 25.3% +2.1%

Leyburn, N Yorks 107 20.8% +1.5%

SAC, Dumfries* 45 27.5 +6.2%

*Variety Nancis, all other sites are Sophy.