Maize watch: crop maturity surprises many

Now is the time for maize growers in the South and East to start looking at their crops and assessing crop maturity.

According to Neil Groom, technical director of Grainseed, the first samples conducted for Farmers Weekly this week show that in Sussex and Norfolk the crops are starting to lay down starch in the grains and increase in maturity and dry matter. “We must remember that in September if the weather is good then dry matters can increase by 4% or more, so there could be crops ready by mid-September where they were early drilled and on sandy soils,” he says.

John Hancock, who sampled at Petworth last week, reckons his crop has altered a lot in the last few days. “We drill half the acreage after grass silage and half at normal time once the soil has warmed up in the spring and we will be cutting on two dates this year to ensure both crops are optimised. I’ve noticed a real difference in the last week and the crops are moving forward quickly, so we are starting to get organised for harvest. This is good, since we have run out of last year’s maize and I am really missing it in the diet.”

Mr Groom advises growers to walk well into the field to get away from any headland effects. “The spring wasn’t great for subsoiling because the soil was too wet and therefore there are some fields with headland compaction. But in the majority of fields once you get into the main crop they are good to excellent.”


Site Drill date Height above sea level (m) Crop dry matter 28 August
Petworth, Sussex 4 May 50 22.3
Harleston, Norfolk 30 23.7
Crediton, Devon 25 April 118
Tricknall, Derbyshire 1 May 67 17.6
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire* 4 May 32
SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland (plastic) 30 April 45 20.4
SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland* 30 April 45 17.4

* Variety Es Picker, all other sites are Es Ballade. Variety under plastic Es Marco.

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