Getting the best yields from maize

Maize harvest has taken place in most areas of the country during the good weather window that occurred from the second week of October onwards, reports Neil Groom, technical manager for Grainseed.

“Travelling conditions have been excellent and foragers have been able to cut to full capacity given the easy travelling conditions in the majority of areas of the country. Many of these fields have now been turned over and drilled with winter wheat or Italian ryegrass as growers maximise production”.

Harvest has gone well in Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire, according to Simon Davies who started sampling for Farmers Weekly this year for the first time.

“We drilled in early May and the crop got off to a good start and has never looked back. The crop matured well in the autumn sunshine and we harvested Wednesday last week at an estimated 34% dry matter and 19t/acre (47t/ha) fresh yield. This is probably the highest yield we have achieved.”

Crops that have not reached full maturity shouldn’t be rushed, believes Mr Groom. “You’re feeding maize silage for a minimum of 200 days, so why clamp immature maize that wont give the full benefit of mature starch in the ration? When the sugar in the plant hasn’t been fully converted to starch in the grain it can be lost as effluent from the clamp, reducing performance.”

Inspect fields after the harvest team has left the farm and assess soil compaction from harvest. Most fields haven’t suffered much damage yet, but a fully loaded trailer could weigh upwards of 24t and, depending on wheel specification, will be creating a lot of compaction down through the soil profile.

Site

Drill date

Height above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 6 October

Increase from last week

Petworth, Sussex

27 April

50

Harvested

 

Harleston, Norfolk

27 April

30

Harvested

 

Crediton, Devon

26 April

118

Harvested

 

Ticknall, Derbyshire

19 April

67

Harvested

 

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire*

8 May

32

Harvested

 

Leyburn, North Yorkshire *

20 April

140

33.4

+ 1.8

SAC, Dumfries, Scotland*

22 April

45

29.6

+ 1.5

* Variety Es Picker, all other sites are Es Ballade