Maize crops need Indian summer to maximise quality

This year is proving a complete contrast to 2006 for maize crops, says Neil Groom, Technical Manager for Grainseed.
Last year we had so many heat units that many growers along the south coast, East Anglia and the South West were thinking cutting this week a year ago This summer has been the wettest recorded and consequently crops have hardly seen any sun and heat at all.

“Flowering and pollination in many areas was two weeks later than normal so we can expect a later harvest. Some crops, however, have now got solid starch in the base of the grains and if we had an Indian summer maturity could rapidly accelerate and crops dry down quicker than expected. Early maturing varieties are already starting to dry down and have lost that glossy green look as they transfer energy from the leaf to starch in the grains.”

Maize cutting

At Petworth in Sussex John Hancock reports his most forward crops are still zitty, but have solid starch in the base of the grain. The wet summer has kept the maize growing on their greensands and all his maize looks like it will yield around 20t/acre fresh.

He is going to cut 100t to feed fresh to his dairy cows as they are inseminated. Many growers will be cutting some maize early to ensure cows have a good level of nutrition to ensure efficient production, reckons Mr Groom. The bulk of the crop will then be left to fully mature and enhance energy levels in the winter forage.

“Many crops have struggled in wet soils for much of the summer, and look better than they did a month ago. Maize is an annual and needs to produce seed to survive, so the majority of plants have produced a cob. Physical bulk will be reduced, but quality could be good with a high grain content.”

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