Cold snap set to rapidly dry down maize crops

The cold weather forecast for this weekend will rapidly cause plants to dry down as the crop goes into finishing mode, say Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed.

“Maize is an annual plant and needs to produce viable seed for next year. The plant will therefore do everything it can to maximise the starch content in the grain that acts as an energy reserve for next year’s seedling.”

With fields wet and contractors doing their best to harvest without causing too much damage to soil structure, any rutting caused will need removing before winter, if possible, to prevent soil erosion, says Mr Groom.

“Pulling a deep tine through the bottom of the rut to remove smearing will allow water to drain and will make a big difference to the condition of the field,” he says.

“With more eyespot around this year, growers need to remember to plough trash in as soon as possible if the field is going to grow maize again next year,” adds Mr Groom.

It’s always best if you can rotate maize around the farm, he says, but for some growers they only have a few fields that have the correct soil type or enough shelter to grow maize and therefore they become continuous maize fields.

Simon Davies, sampling for Farmers Weekly in Carmarthenshire, has seen a big difference in the dry matters this week.

“The autumn weather is causing the green leaf to dry back, but our cobs are still not fully fit. I have very dry grass silage in the pit, so don’t mind slightly wetter maize silage, but if the weather allows, I will try to be patient and get more starch in the grains which are currently milky ripe.”

Maize progress 2012

Site Drill date Height above sea level (m) Crop dry matter
18 Oct %
Petworth, Sussex

18 April



Harleston, Norfolk

4 May



Crediton, Devon

5 May



Ticknall, Derbyshire

12 May




Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire*

4 May




SAC, Dumfries, Scotland (plastic)

26 April




SAC, Dumfries, Scotland*

26 April




 * Variety Es Picker; all other sites are Es Ballade except variety under plastic which is Es Marco.

Maize Watch is a weekly series looking at maize progress throughout the harvest period. Information is provided by Grainseed.

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