Erratic maize crop growth may be indication of poor soil drainage

Early flowering varieties of maize will have tasselled by now and this means the plant has completed its vegetative stage of growth in which bulk is achieved. After flowering, the plant develops the cob which is important for the energy content of the subsequent silage.

Nationwide, maize crop growth, even within counties, is erratic. Earlier sown crops which endured many weeks with little moisture at the start are generally poorer than those later sown.

Where tasselled maize crops are not looking tall and bulky, anticipate lower dry matter yields and assess whether extra forage supplies need buying in, or whether to sow a catch crop now. Sowing of stubble turnips should be carried out as soon as possible, while forage rape can be sown successfully until the end of the month.

This is also a good time to inspect each field of the maize crop and note down areas where plant growth is stunted. This could be indicative of soil compaction and/or poor drainage – these areas will need extra attention with sub-soiling prior to sowing another maize crop.


Also, take a look at grass leys now and decide which will benefit from overseeding to renovate bare areas and which have deteriorated to the point where reseeding is the best option.

Ley mixtures which include clovers should be sown by the end of August, so soil temperatures are still favourable for germination. Ryegrass-only leys can be sown through to the end of September.

And it’s advisable to reseed this autumn as grass seed prices will be higher from next year. This is due to two separate factors. First, the European grass and clover seed harvest has been severely affected by bad weather – with overall yields 25% down.

Second, wheat prices have soared and a grass seed price increase is one of the many knock-on effects. This is because herbage seed production needs to be as profitable as wheat for farmers to undertake it.

  • This column is provided by Advanta Seeds, seed breeder and wholesale supplier of a wide range of forage crops. For a technical factsheet on any of the crop options mentioned, email or call 01522 861 316.