With maize crops ready to harvest in most areas of the UK following the good weather last week, growers are being advised to focus on clamp management to ensure good fermentation to reduce losses in the clamp and during feed out.
Neil Groom, technical director of forage specialist Grainseed, reminds farmers the clamp should be loaded in shallow layers, with continual rolling to remove oxygen.
“With big contractor’s kit, trailers are bringing loads of 15t or more into the clamp every few minutes, so the buck-rake driver needs to be constantly working to load the clamp in shallow layers.
“The buck-rake driver should control the whole process, ensuring good consolidation across the whole pit.”
Typically, maize density in the clamp is 800kg/cu m, but with consolidator wheels and increased rolling this can be increased to 1,000kg/m³.
Toby Tibbenham in Norfolk has now harvested his maize. “Like many growers in this region our yields are down, but the cobs were very good and we will have some very high-quality maize silage to feed this winter.”
Maize is grown in the arable rotation on the farm, so the fields will be drilled with winter wheat in early October.
“To help with the forage shortage we have reseeded a lot of our grazing leys with high sugar grass mixtures to maximise milk from forage next spring.”
Even in Scotland crops are getting close to harvest.
Hugh McClymont, the farm manager at SRUC, intends to cut a field of Es Lovely that has been grown under Samco film.
“Since we are a research farm we have lots of small clamps, enabling us to cut crops as they are ready. We purposely drilled some of the maize fields with ultra-early varieties to ensure we had an early maize harvest that will allow us to reseed grass ready for Scot Grass next May.”