Maize Watch: Crops ready to harvest in all areas

Maize crops are ready to harvest in all areas of the country now, even where there are limited heat units and where crops were drilled in late May.

Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed, said the recent rain has made harvesting conditions challenging but it is important to get the crop harvested now that it has reached full maturity.

“We want to harvest while the plants are still reasonably green and before the leaves get frosted.”

During a frost, the plant cell freezes and explodes, causing the loss of sugars in the cells that aid fermentation.

See also: Maize Watch: How dry matters are developing around the country

“Often the top couple of leaves of the plant may be frosted first and the rows on the headland, but when you get into the maize, the plants can still be quite green,” he added.

George John, sampling for Farmers Weekly, estimates half his local crops have been cut.

“Our crops are still green, but the leaf is now drying down from the stem base.

“Grains have been fully mature for the past 10 days, but we have had 10cm of rain since the start of the month, reducing the number of days we can harvest.

“If we can get a week of no rain and a bit of a breeze, the remaining crops will be all in the clamp.”

Advice for harvesting in a frost

If there is a hard frost then growers are advised to consider chopping maize shorter to improve clamp consolidation.

This is because the dry matter will be higher and it will become harder to roll the silage.

Maize harvesting progress at sampling sites


Drill date

Height above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter
9 October

Increase from last week

Petworth, Sussex

28 April




Harleston, Norfolk

2 May




Crediton, Devon

29 April




Ticknall, Derbyshire

10 May




Narbeth, S Wales*

10 May





SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland (plastic)

17 April




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