Maize Watch: How dry matters are developing around the country

Maize harvest looks imminent for many, according to the latest reports from growers around the country.

Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed, has walked a lot of maize crops around the country in the past weeks and said crops are looking good.

He said: “Rain in July has resulted in good pollination and excellent cobs with grains maturing early.

“On strong land the grain can be fit while the crop is still green, so make sure you look at these crops early.

“On sandier soils the recent dry period has resulted in the plants drying down very quickly.

See also: Undersowing maize with grass brings soil health benefits

“If your crops have less than 50% of the leaf still green then consider using an additive at harvest to help reduce clamp losses because levels of yeast and mould will be higher on dying leaves.”

Chris Blake, sampling for Farmers Weekly near Crediton in Devon, plans to cut some maize this week.

“On some heavier fields away from the farm we have grown the Ultra Early variety Picker to ensure we get the crop off early as we have to travel through a large village and we don’t want to be bringing mud onto the road.

“This maize will be put into our small clamp and the remaining maize from last year re-clamped in front of it so that when we come to our main harvest in 10 days we can sheet up the clamp and leave it to properly ferment until after Christmas, ensuring that the cows can digest the maize starch better from the longer fermentation.”

Post-harvest, the fields will then be drilled with winter wheat, hopefully using a Vaderstad drill straight into the maize stubble, he added.

Advice for reducing mud on roads

Mr Groom says farmers should prepare to reduce mud on the road as the weather is set to turn.

“The weather has been kind so far this harvest, but as we move into October then we are more likely to get rain.

“Simple things like filling holes in gateways with stones so that you are not travelling through muddy puddles before coming out onto the road is really helpful.

“Also be prepared to use a sweeper to keep public roads clean and use it from the start if conditions are sticky.”

With big trailers it is also worth having a traffic plan when using country lanes so that there is an in and out system for all your fields, he advised.

He added some lanes are  not wide enough to enable two trailers to pass easily, so run the empty trailers round further to keep the vehicles flowing better.  


Drill date

Height above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 18 September

Increase from last week

Petworth, Sussex

28 April



+ 0.3

Harleston, Norfolk

2 May



– 2.6

Crediton, Devon

29 April




Ticknall, Derbyshire

10 May



– 1.3

Narbeth, S Wales*

10 May





SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland PLASTIC

17 April



+ 2.7

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