Forage maize on course for earlier harvest

The combination of earlier drilling and ideal growing conditions could see an earlier maize harvest this autumn with reports of very bulky crops.

The good weather last spring resulted in early maize drilling with the main planting window occurring in the past 10 days of April, on average a full week earlier than last year.

“Some growers achieved good seed-beds around the 10 April and drilled then and the crops have responded during the good spring weather when temperatures were high,” says Neil Groom technical director for Grainseed.

See also: Focus on milk from forage increases margins at Cheshire dairy

“In general, the good weather continued throughout May and June allowing more nutrients to be released from organic manures and we have some very bulky crops this season.

“Rain at flowering has ensured good fertilisation and we have some big cobs which are well filled and starch lay down has started early.”

All six growers report some of the bulkiest crops on their farms ever and a return to fine weather would result in an early harvest as maize crops can mature very quickly in September.

“Maize dry matters can increase by 4% or more a week in September, especially if the weather is warm and windy so make sure you look at the crop twice a week to monitor crop maturity” advises Mr Groom.

With a target dry matter of 30-32%, harvest could be only a week away for the Devon crop, given the right weather.

 Maize Watch   
Site  Drill date Height above sea level (m) Crop dry matter
Petworth, Sussex  22 April 50 23.5
Harleston, Norfolk 24 April 30 25.5
Crediton, Devon 23 April 118 26.3
Ticknall, Derbyshire 4 May 6  
Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire* 16 May 32 18.2
SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland (under plastic) 23 April 45 20.5
SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland* 23 April 45 17.5
*Variety Es Picker, all other sites are Es Ballade. Variety under plastic Es Marco.