Maize Watch: Harvest progresses as weather worsens

The maize harvest progresses across the country as autumn sets in, and with it some heavy rain. 

Toby Tibbenham sampling for Farmers Weekly in Norfolk harvested his maize last week (27 September), avoiding the worst of the weather.

“The crop yielded really well, except for a small field that followed sugar beet that had poor soil structure from last year’s beet harvest.

“All the other fields had a winter cover crop and produced the best maize seed-beds we have ever had.”

See also: Should bulky maize crops be cut high?

The maize stubbles have now been cultivated using a Kuhn Performer that produced a good seed-bed and these have been direct-drilled with a winter barley seed crop.

Based on this spring’s experience of having a winter cover crop before the maize, Toby has drilled the fields for next year’s maize with stubble turnips and grass.

“We will rent this out for winter keep for fattening lambs on, earning a headage payment for us and help reduce any nutrient loss over winter.

“I want to have all my fields growing crops or covers rather than leaving bare stubble.”

Maize dry matters across the UK


Drill date

Ht above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 28 September

Increase from last week

Harvest results

Petworth, Sussex

27 April




55t/ha at 32-38% dry matter

Harleston, Norfolk

1 May





Crediton, Devon

22 April





Ticknall, Derbyshire

26 April





Narbeth, S Wales

11 May





SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland PLASTIC

14 April





Heavy rain safety warning

With a change to autumnal conditions and heavy rain across the country, maize harvesting teams are being urged to prioritise safety in the field and on the roads.

Neil Groom, technical director for forage specialists Grainseed, says growers and contractors should:

  • Minimise mud and soil on the road
  • Ensuring trailers are well lit
  • And get staff to wear reflective clothing to reduce the risk of accidents this harvest.

“We have a responsibility to other road users to make sure that any soil brought out onto the public road is quickly cleaned up.

“Using a rotary brush as soon as you see mud coming out of the field will help reduce a build-up and make it easier to keep the road clean,” advises Mr Groom.

“Running across some grass or down a private road will also allow any soil to fall off the trailers before going out onto the road.”

He adds: “Looking at the week’s dry matters, we have seen the dry matters drop where plants are still green as they suck up water after the rain.

“This normally happens after a period of drought as the plant tries to optimise the resources for producing seed.”